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of their own,
ledge with the freedom and contingency of all foot, and quite throw them out of our creed. human acts, both good and evil, so foreknown This course we have seen taken amongst us, by him. Both parts of which problem are cer and the church (God bless it, and those who are tainly true; but how to explain and make out over it) has been hitherto profoundly silent at the accord between them, without overthrow-it; but how long God (whose honour is most ing one of them, has hitherto exceeded the concerned) will be so too, none can tell. For force of man's reason. And therefore Socinus if some novelists may put what sense they very rouudly, or rather indeed very profanely, please upon the writings of Moses, and others denies any such prescience of future contin- do the like with the articles of the Christian gents to be in God at all. But as profane as church also, (and the greatest encouragement he was in thus cutting asunder this knot, attend both,) I cannot see (uuless some others have been as ridiculous in pretending extraordinary providence prevent it) but that to untie it. For do not some, in their dis both these religions are in a direct way to be courses about the divine attributes and decrees, run down amongst us, and that in a very promise the world such a clear account, such short time too. an open explicit scheme of these great things, Let every sober, humble, and discreet as should make them plain and evident even Christian, therefore, be advised to dread all to the meanest capacities? And the truth is, tampering with the mysteries of our faith, if to any capacities at all, it must be to the either by any new and unwarrantable explimeanest'; for to those of a higher pitch, and cations of them, or descants upon them. The a larger compass, these things neither aré, nor great apostle of the Gentiles, who, I am sure, will, nor ever can be made evident. And if had as clear a knowldge of the whole mystery such persons could but obtain of Heaven a
of the gospel as any in his time, and a greater continuance of life, till they made good what | plenty of revelations than any one could they so confidently undertake, they would be pretend to since him, treated these matters in a sure way to outlive, not only Methuselah, with much another kind of reverence, crying but even the world itself. But then, in come out with horror and amazemeut,
Oh, the some other undertakers, and promise us the depth and unsearchableness of the things of same or greater wonders in Christian theology, God !” (Rom. xi. 33.) And again, “ Who is offering, by some new whimsical explications sufficient for these things?" (ž Cor. ii. 16.)
to make the deepest mysteries of This was his judgment, these were his thoughts our Christian faith as plain, easy, and intel- of these dreadful and mysterious depths; and ligible, forsooth, as that two and two make the same, no doubt, will be the thoughts and four; that is, in other words, they will repre-judgment of all others concerning them, who sent and render them such mysteries as shall have any thing of depth themselves. For as have nothing at all mystical in them.
the same apostle again has it in that most And now is not this, think we, a most noted place in 1 Tim. iii. 16, “ Without conprofound invention, and much like the dis
troversy great is the mystery of godliness : covery of some New-found-land, some o God manifested in the flesh, justified in the Brazil in divinity? With so much absurd Spirit, seen of angels, believed on in the world, confidence do some discourse, or rather ro and received up into glory.” mance upon the most mysterious points of the To which God infinitely wise, holy, and Christian faith, that any man of sense and great, be rendered and ascribed, as is most sobriety would be apt to think such persons due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, not only beside their subject, but beside them both now and for evermore. Amen. selves too. And the like censure we may justly pass upon all other such idle pretenders ; the true character of which sort of men is, that he who thinks and says he can understand all mysteries, and resolve all contro
SERMON XXXI. versies, undeniably shews that he really understands none.
THE LINEAL DESCENT OF JESUS OF In the meantime, we may here observe the NAZARETH FROM DAVID BY HIS true way by which these great and adorable BLESSED MOTHER,
THE VIRGIN mysteries of our religion come first to be MARY. ridiculed and blasphemed, and at length totally laid aside by some; and that is, by their being first innovated upon, and new “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright modelled, by the bold, senseless, and absurd
and morning star." - Rev. xxii. 16. explications of others. For first of all such innovators break down those sacred mounds The words here pitched upon by me are which antiquity had placed about these the words of Christ now glorified in heaven, articles, and then heretics and blasphemers and seem, as it were, by the union of a double rush in upon them, trample them under | festival, to represent to us both the Nativity
and Epiphany, while they lead us to the birth being at all, till such time as he was conceived of Christ by the direction of a star ; though by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin with this difference, I confess, that both the Mary. I shall not much concern myself means directing, and the term directed to, do about these two opinions, as they stand in in this place coincide ; and Christ the person opposition to one another; but only remark speaking, as well as spoken of, is here the this of them, that Socinus asserts a thing, only star to direct us to himself. The pati- considered barely in itself, more agreeable to vity of Christ is certainly a compendium of reason, which can much better conceive of the whole gospel, in that it thus both begins Christ as a man naturally cousisting of soul and ends it, reaching from the first chapter of and body, than as such a heterogeneous comSaint Matthew to this last of the Revelation ; position of a body, and (I know not what) which latter, though it be confessedly a book strange spiritual substance existing before the of mysteries, and a system of occult divinity, creation, as the Arians represent him; but yet surely it can contain nothing more mys- then, on the other side, the opinion of Arius terious and stupendous than the mystery here is, of the two, much more difficult to be conwrapt up in the text; where we have Christ | futed by Scripture; for as to Socinus, the declaring himself both the “root and the chief arguments brought from thence against offspring of David.” For that any one should him, are not such as are taken from the name be both father and son to the same person, or actions of God, attributed to Christ, which produce himself, be cause and effect too, and he thiuks he easily answers by asserting that so the copy give being to its original, seems God is a name, not of nature, but of power at first sight so very strange and unaccount and dominion; and that Christ is called God, able, that, were it not to be adored as a mys because of the power and government of all tery, it would be exploded as a contradiction. things put into his hands; as earthly kings But since the gospel has lifted us above our also, in their proportion, have in Scripture reason, and taught us one of the great arcana the same title upon the same account. But of heaven, by assuring us that divinity and the arguments which bear hardest upon humanity may cohabit in one subsistence, Socinus are such as are taken froin those that two natures may concur in the same scriptures, which, beyond all possibility of person, and heaven and earth mingle without rational contradiction, declare the pre-exisconfusion ; we being thus taught and per tence and precedent being of Christ to his suaded, shall here endeavour to exhibit the conception; such as Jolin, viji. 58, “Before whole economy of Christ's glorious person, Abraham was, I am ;" and in John, xvii. 5, and to shew what a miracle he was, as well “Glorify me, O Father, with the glory whichi as what miracles he did, by considering him I had with thee before the world was ;" which under these three several respects,
all the Socinians in the world could never yet First, as the “root;" secondly, as the “off- give any clear, proper, and natural exposition spring of David;" and thirdly, as he is here of; but unnaturally and illogically pervert termed, “the bright and morning star." and distort them, in defiance of sense and And first for the first of these :
reason, and all the received ways of interpreChrist was the “ root of David ;" but how? tation. But now, as for Arius, the allegation Certainly in respect of something in him of these and the like scriptures prejudice not which had a being before David. But his bis hypothesis at all; who grants Christ to humanity had not so, being of a inuch later have been a glorious spiritual substance, of an date, and therefore, as a mere man, he could existence not only before Abraham, but also not be the “root of David ;" whereupon it before Adam, and the angels themselves, and follows that he must have been so in respect the whole host of the creation. But what ? of some other nature; but what that nature Was Christ then the “root of David” only in was will be the question. The Arians, who respect of this spiritual, pre-existing, created denied his divinity, but granted his pre- substance, first found out and set up by Arius ? existence to his humanity, (which the Soci- No, certainly; for the Scripture, and (the nians absolutely deny,) held him to be the best comment upon the Scripture) a general first-born of the creation ; the first and most council, and that also the first and most glorious creature which God made, a spiritual famous, even the council of Nice, have consubstance produced by him long before the demned this. And all those scriptures which foundation of the world, and afterwards, in inake Christ either one with or equal to the the fulness of time, sent into a body, and so Father, clearly confute aud overthrow so made incarnate. This is what they hold; absurd as well as blasphemous an assertion. whereby it appears how much they differ Let this, therefore, be fixed upon, that Christ from the school of Socinus, though some with was the root, or original, of David, as he was great impertinence confound them. Arius of all mankind besides ; namely, in respect of taught that Christ had a spiritual subsistence his divinity; of that infinite, eternal power, before the world began ; Socinus held that he which displayed itself in the works of the creawas a mere man, and had no subsistence or tion, “for by him all things were made,” as
the evangelist tells us, (John, i. 3.) But how from them. In short, if the adversaries of ready natural reason will be to rise up against Christ's divinity can prove Christ not to be this assertion, I am not ignorant; and how God, they must, by consequence, prove that the that Jesus of Nasareth, a man like ourselves, Scriptures, naturally and grammatically intershould be accounted by nature God, the preted, are not the word of God; but, on the Creator of the world, omniscient, omnipotent, contrary, the church being assured that the and eternal, is looked upon by many as a Scriptures, so interpreted, are the word of proposition, not only false, but foolish, and God, is consequently assured also, that Christ fitter to be laughed than disputed out of the is and must be God. Nevertheless, if, accorworld; this also is no surprise to us. But ding to the unreasonable demands of the men then, on the other side, that this is a thing of this sect, this and all other mysteries of our not to be founded upon, or to take its rise religion, should be put to answer for themfrom the bare discourses of reason, he must be selves at the bar of human reason, I would very much a stranger to reason himself, who fain know, wherein consists the paradox of shall venture to deny ; for if it may be proved asserting Christ to be God? For no man by reason, (as I doubt not but it may,) that says that his human nature is his divine, or the Scripture is the word of God, addressed that he is God as he is man. But we assert, to men, and consequently ought to be under that he who is God is also man, by having two stood and interpreted according to the familiar natures united into one and the same subnatural way of construction proper to human sistence. And if the soul, which is an immawritings ; then I affirm, that to deny Christ to terial substance, is united to the body, which be naturally God is irrational, when his being is a material ; though the case is not altoso is so frequently asserted throughout the gether the same, yet it is so very near, that whole Scripture, and that in as clear terms as we inay well ask, what repugnancy there is, it is possible for one man to express his mind but that the divine nature may as well be by to another, if it were his purpose to declare united to the human ? I believe, if we reduce this very thing to him.
things to our way of conception, we shall find And therefore I have often wondered at the it altogether as hard to conceive the conjuncpreposterous tenets of Socinus, and that, not tion of the two former, as of the two latter; so much for his denying the natural deity of and this, notwithstanding that other difference our Saviour, as that he should do it after he also of finite and infinite between them ; for had wrote a book for the authority of the why a finite and an infinite being may not be Scripture. For upon the same reasons that united to one another by an intimate and he and his sect deny the deity of Christ, I inseparable relation, and an assumption of the should rather deny the Scripture to be of finite into the personal subsistence of the infidivine authority. They say, for Christ to be nite, I believe it will be hard for any one to God is a thing absurd and impossible ; from give a solid and demonstrative reason ; for which I should argue, that that writing or scoffs and raillery (the usual arguments doctrine which affirms a thing absurd and brought against it) I am sure are not so. impossible, cannot be true, and much less the But I forget myself; for the persons here word of God. And that the Gospel affirms so disputed against believe not the soul to be much of Christ, we may appeal to the judg- either iinmaterial or naturally immortal ;* ment of any impartial heathen, who under but are much the same with the Sadducees, stands the language in which it is written. and upon that account fitter to be crusbed by But he who first denies the deity of Christ as the civil magistrate, as destructive to governabsurd and impossible, and thereupon rejects ment and society, than to be confuted as the divine authority of the Scriptures for merely heretics in religion. affirming it, may be presumed, upon the sup I conclude, therefore, against the scoffs of posal of the former, to do the latter very the heathens, the disputations of the Jews, rationally. So that he who would take the the impiety of Arius, and the bold, blasphemost proper and direct way to convince such mous assertions of Socinus, that the man an one of his heresy, (if there be any con Christ Jesus, born at Bethlehem, of the Virgin vincing of one who first takes up his opinion, Mary, is God, God by nature, the Maker of and then seeks for reasons for it,) must not, Í all things, the Fountain of being, the Ancient conceive, endeavour in the first place to con of Days, the First and the Last, of whose vince him out of Scripture, that Jesus Christ being there was no beginning, and of whose is God, but turn the whole force and stress
* Tantum id mihi videtur statui posse, post hanc vitam, of his disputation to the proof of this, that
hominis animam sive animum non ita per se subsistere, ut ulla the Scripture is the word of God to mankind, præmia pænasve septiat, vel etiam illa sentiendi sit capax. and upon that account ought to be interpreted And again : In ipso primo homine totius immortalitatis as the writings of men use and ought to be ; rationem uni gratiæ Dei tribuo; nec in ipsa creatione quicquam and if so, he who will make sense of them
immortalis vitæ in homine agnosco. Socin. Ep. 5. ad Joh.
Volkelium. See more of the like nature, cited by the learned must grant the divinity of Christ to be clearly
Dr Ashwell, in his Dissertation de Socino et Socinianismo, asserted in them, and irrefragably inferred pp. 187 — 189, &c.
kingdom there shall be no end. And in this Jacob and Eli being brothers by the mother, one proposition the very life and heart of though of different fathers, Eli dying without Christianity does consist. For as, that there issue, Jacob was obliged by law to marry his is a God, is the great foundation of religion in relict, and so to raise up seed to his brother general ; so, that Jesus Christ is God, is the Eli. foundation of the Christian religion ; and I Now all this is grounded upon an ancient believe it will one day be found, that he who story of one Julius Africanus, recorded by will not acknowledge Christ for his Creator, Eusebius, in his first book and seventh chapter. shall never have him for his Redeemer. And of late Faustus Socinus ; (who, having
Having thus shewn how Christ was “the denied Christ's divine nature, was resolved to root and original of David," pass we now to cut him short both root and branch, and to the next thing proposed, which is to shew, deny his human too, at least as to the most
Secondly, That he was his “offspring” too, considerable circumstance of it, which conand so, having asserted his divinity, to clear cerned the credit of his being the true Messias ;) also his humanity. That the Christian reli- he, I say, catches at this forlorn story, and gion be true, is the eternal concernment of ascribes much to it in that book of his called all those who believe it, and look to be saved his Lectiones Sacræ ; and though generally a by it; and that it be so, depends upon Jesus professed despiser of antiquity, yet when he Christ's being the true promised Messias, thinks it may make any thing for his purpose, (the grand and chief thing asserted by him he can catch at every fabulous scrap of it, and in his gospel;) and lastly, Christ's being the thereupon vouches this as authentic, even for true Messias depends upon his being the son its antiquity. From which opinion it follows, of David, and King of the Jews. So that that Christ was only the reputed son of David, unless this be evinced, the whole founda that is to say, because his mother was married tion of Christianity unust totter and fall, as to one who was really of David's line. And being a cheat, and an imposture upon the
this the whole sect of Socinus affirms to be world. And therefore let us undertake to sufficient to denominate and make Christ the clear this great important truth, and to son of David, and accordingly allow him so demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth was the to be upon no other or nearer account. true seed of David, and rightful king of the But of the authors and assertors of this Jews.
opinion we may well demand, that admitting His pedigree is drawn down by two of the Christ might upon this account be called the evangelists; by Saint Matthew in his first son of David, in the large and loose way of chapter, and by Saint Luke in his third, from that denomination, yet how could he for this whence our adversaries oppose us with these only reason be called the seed of David ? nay, two great difficulties,
and, what is yet more full and express, be First, that these two evangelists disagree in said to be made of the seed of David,” as it deducing of his pedigree.
is in Romans, i. 3, and farther, to be “the Secondly, that supposing they were proved fruit of his loins," as it is in Acts, ii. 30. I to agree, yet both of their pedigrees terininate say with what propriety, or accord with the in Joseph, and therefore belong not to Jesus, common use of speaking, could one man be who was not indeed the son of Joseph, but of said to be another man's seed, and “the fruit
of his loins," when he had no other relation In answer to which we are to observe, that to him in the world, than that his mother concerning this whole matter there are two only married with a person who stood so opinions.
related to that other ? I believe the Jews First, That both in Saint Matthew and would desire no greater a concession from us Saint Lake only the pedigree of Joseph is than this, whereby to conclude and argue recounted; in the first his natural, in the Jesus of Nazareth not to have been the true other his legal; for it being a known custom Messiah. Let us therefore leave this opinion among the Jews, that a man dying without to itself, as destructive to the main foundation issue, his brother should marry his widow, of our religion, and fit to be owned by none and raise up seed to him, Eli hereupon dying but the mortal enemies of Christ and Chriswithout auy child, Jacob took his wife, and tianity, the Jews and the Socinians; and so of her begat Joseph; who by this means was naturally the son of Jacob, as Saint Matthew Second opinion, which is, that both Joseph deduces it, and legally or reputedly the son of and Mary came from David by true and real Eli, as Saint Luke. And then to make Jacob descent, and that, as Joseph's genealogy and and Eli brothers, who are there set down in pedigree is set down in that line which Saint different lines, it is said that Matthan, of the Matthew gives an account of, so the Virgin line of Solomon, and Melchi, of the line of Mary's lineage is recited in that which is Nathan, successively married the same woman, recorded by Saint Luke : which opinion, as (Estha by name,) of whom Matthan begat it has been generally received by divines of Jacob, and Melchi begat Eli: whereupon the greatest note, and best answers those diffi
pass to the
culties and objections which the other is beset David had several sops * by former wives, so with, so I shall endeavour fully to clear aud by Bathsheba also he had thrce, besides set it down in these following proposit ns,— Solomon, of which the eldest rext to him
1. The first proposition is this, That the was Nathan; and that Christ descended natudesigns of the two evangelists, in their res rally from David, not by Solomon, but by pective deductions of our Saviour's pedigree, Nathan. And accordingly, that Saint Luke are very different. For Saint Matthew in deduces only Nathan's line ; upon which tends only to set down his political or royal account it is, that the Jews at this day, in pedigree, by which he had right to the crown opposition to the Christians, make it one of the Jews; but Saint Luke shews his natural main article of their creed, that the Messias descent through the several successions of those was to descend naturally from Solomon ; and from whom he took flesh and blood. And accordingly pronounce a curse upon all those that this is so, besides that natural reason who assert the contrary ; though to this very taken from the impossibility of one and the hour they have not been able to assign who same person's having two several fathers, as was the son of Jeconiah, whom “God wrote Saint Matthew and Saint Luke seem at first childless ;' nor to shew any solid reason why, sight to import; we have these farther argu if Jeconiah had any natural issue of his own, ments, for the said assertion; as, first, that the crown and sceptre of Judah came to be Saint Matthew begins his reckoning only from devolved upon the line of Nathan, as it actuAbraham, to whom the first promise of the ally was in Salathiel and his successors. Add kingdom was made, (Gen. xvii. 6.) But Saint to this, (which is a thing well worth observLuke runs his line up to Adam, the first head ing) that althongh it is frequently said in and fountain of human nature; which fairly Scripture, that the Messias should descend from shews that one deduced only his title to the David, yet it is never said that he should crown, the other the natural descent of his descend from Solomon. For though it is said humanity. And then, in the second place, of Solomon, (1 Chron. xxii. 10,) that God that Saint Matthew used the word begat only would “establish the throne of his kingdom in a political sense, is farther clear from this, over Israel for ever,” yet it is not said that he that he applies it to him who had no child, would establish it in his seed or line; and even to Jeconiah, of whom it is expressly said besides, the kingdom here spoken of and in(Jer. xxii. 30,) that “God wrote him child-tended, was the spiritual kingdom over the less." Whereupon, being deposed by the church of God, typified in that temporal oue king of Babylon, Zedekiah his uncle was made of Solomon ; which spiritual kingdom was king, and afterwards, upon the removal of him established only in the person of the Messias, also for his rebellion, (there remaining no
whom we believe to have been Jesus of more of the line of Solomon,) Salathiel, being Nazareth, the great king and head of the Dext of kin, was declared king of the Jews ; church, God blessed for ever. which Salathie), upon that account, is said to 3. The third proposition is this, That the be begot by Jeconiah, in Saint Matthew; not crown of Judah being now come into the line because he was naturally his son, but legally of Nathan in Salathiel, (whose immediate son and politically so, as succeeding him in the was Pedaiah, (though not mentioned in the inheritance of the crown. For though in 1 succession, because he died before his father's Chron. iii. 17, there is mention of Assir and assumption to the crown,) and next to Salaof Salathiel, as it were of two sons of Jeco-thiel, the great and renowned Zorobabel,) forniah, * yet, in truth, Assir there is not the asmuch as Saint Matthew and Luke agree proper name of a person, nor of any son of from Jeconiah to Zorobabel, (after whom they Jeconiah, but is only an appellative of Jeco- divide, each ascribing to him a different sucniah himself, signifying one under captivity, cessor, namely, one of them Abiud, and the or in bonds, as Jeconiah then was in Babylon, other Rhesa,) we are rationally to suppose, when Salathiel was declared king. And that that these two were the sons of Zorobabel; Salathiel is not there set down as his son in a and that from Abiud, the elder brother, (who natural sense, is evident from the 16th verse only had right to the crown and kingdom,) of the same chapter, where Zedekiah is like-lineally descended Joseph, according to the wise said to be his son, though naturally he calculation of Saint Matthew; and that from was his uncle; yet because Zedekiah 'first Rhesa, the younger brother, descended Mary, succeeded him in the kingdom, and Salathiel of whom Jesus was born, according to Saint next, Jeconiah still surviving, therefore both Luke's description : for though in the above of them, in that political sense I spoke of, are mentioned third chapter of i Chron. (where said to be his sons, whom, in the natural there is an account given of Zorobabel's sous,) sense, the prophet Jeremy, as has been shewn, declares to have been childless.
"Note, that those four sons of David by Bathsheba, men2. The second proposition is this, That as
tioned in 1 Chron, iii. 5, are not there set down according to the
order of their birth. For Solomon, though last named, was As it stands rectified by Junius and Tremellius, who place certainly born first; and Nathan (as he is generally reckoned) the comma after Assir, and not between Jeconiah and that. immediately next.