« AnteriorContinuar »
unto the Son. Heb. i. 1,2. God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things.' Heb. iii. 5, 6. Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant: But Christ as a Son over his own house.' This exaltation of Christ may also be alluded to in Psalm lxxxix. 27. 'I will make him my first born higher than the kings of the earth. To the same subject perhaps may also be referred: Heb. v. 5. "So also Christ glorified not him. self, to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.'
5th. If we consider the following passages, Col.i. 15. Who (viz. Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature;' and Rev. iii. 14, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God,' as relating to the first creation, it may be affirmed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, because he was the first being whom God pro. duced or created : but several learned commentators are of opinion, that these passages relate to the new creation, or moral renovation of the world, and it is certain that Jesus Christ is never expressly said to be the Son of God in this sense by any inspired writer.
These are all the senses that I can discover in sacred scripture, in which Jesus is expressly called the Son of God; or from which that title may be fairly inferred, But the Trinitarians, who choose to be wise beyond what is written, have feigned or imagined another sense, in which they say Jesus is the Son of God: and upon which they lay far more stress than upon any of the scriptural senses, in which he is so called. They represent the Son of God, as a divine person equal with the Father in every respect, begotten by him in an incomprehensible manner; and of the same essence and substance with the Father. But it is enough to say in reply; that this is a Son of God of their own invention and contrivance, of whom the scrip. tures say not a word. Although the Trinitarians have been repeatedly challenged, they could never produce a single passage from the sacred records, affirming, that Jesus is the Son of God because he is consubstantial with the Fas ther: or begotten from all eternity out of his essence or
substance. The Unitarians can shew clear and distinct testimonies, for the different senses in which they affirm Jesus to be the Son of God: but their opponents have not yet been able to produce any, for the supposed consubstantial Sonship of Jesus. And can we supposed that the Evangelists and Apostles, would have been neg. ligent in recording a doctrine of this kind, if it had been founded in truth? Can we suppose, that they would have particularly mentioned various senses in which Jesus is styled the Son of God : and yet have omitted what, in the judgment of our opponents, is the most important of any ? Is it reasonable to think that they would have left this point to be discovered, and settled, by the penetration of fathers, councils and scholastic divines ? How easy would it have been to have expressed it in their writings, in the same plain and intelligible manner, in which the miraculous conception, the Messiahship, the resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus are recorded. When we read in Scripture that Jesus is the Son of God, we are not warranted to frame an arbitrary and precarious hypothesis of our own, concerning the nature of his fili. ation, or sonship. We ought to have recourse to the written word ; and after having investigated the scripture meaning of the term, it is necessary to abide by the defini. tions which the sacred penmen have given of it.
From these considerations; it appears, how unjustly the Unitarians have been accused of denying the sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ. We admit it, in every sense which bears the genuine stamp of divine revelation : in every sense, in which the Evangelists, Apostles, and first converts to Christianity acknowledged it. We reject only those false and erroneous ideas, which the corrupters of pure and undefiled religion have annexed to the term. For, all the proofs and evidences that the Trinitarians can bring in favour of their pretended consubstantial filiation, are either drawn from figurative, mistaken, and ill translated passages, (which will be obviated and illus-': • trated in our reply to their objections), and which even as they stand will not answer their purpose ; or infes. red from one irrational conclusion of theirs, viz. That because according to the constitution of human nature, a man begets a son out of his own essence, therefore, God
must do so also. But this is departing from the scripture acceptation of the term, and reasoning from human ideas and analogies. It is besides ascribing to God, corporeal affections and passions, which his all-perfect nature does not admit of. For God is a pure and perfect spirit, incapable of division of essence, or separation of substance. And this some of the more acute Trinitarians are aware of, and therefore chuse to depart from the analogy of human generation; and affirm (although they do not know their own meaning when they do affirm it,) that the whole di. vine essence, and not a part of it is begotten, and is trans. ferred to, and subsists in the Son under a different hypostasis, or personality. But this assertion of theirs is absurd and contradictory in itself ; or rather is a mass of contradictions and absurdities. For first it follows, that the Father parted with all his essence to the Son : and yet retains it all at the same time. Secondly, that the Son is his own Father and his own Son. For as upon this Scheme he possesses all the divine essence, or self-existent substance, even the very individual essence of the Father, he must be considered as the Father in one respect and as the Son in another : or in other words, he will be be. gotten and unbegotten at the same time. Another ab. surdity which naturally follows from the notion of an eternal generation of the Father's essence or substance is this, that upon this scheme the Son of God is affirmed to exist, and yet not to exist from all eternity. For although they say he existed from all eternity, yet when they assert also, that he was begotten, this implies an act performed at some particular time, which is inconsistent with the idea of eternal duration. For whoever began to exist at a certain period, there must have been a time when he did not exist. If to avoid this contradiction they assert, that the Son's generation was performed at no particular period whatever, then it will follow, that he never was begotten at all : but that he is always generating, but never generated.
These are a short specimen of the many absurdities, that result from the scheme of an eternal and consubstan. tial generation of the Son of God.: Confusion and dark. ness are the natural consequences of error ; but truth has a beanty and simplicity in it, which is amiable to all be.
holders. It is altogether ridiculons to suppose one divine individual essence, to subsist under different personalities, and those who do so, talk without' ideas, or any proper conception of their own meaning ; and are obliged always to have recourse to the term mystery, ineffable mystery, to shelter themselves from the force of arguments, to which they are unable to give any adequate reply. But it should be remembered, that there is a mystery of iniquity, as well as a mystery of godliness; we have no authority to invent absurdities of our own, or to receive those of others upon trust; and call them by the name of Christian mysteries. Besides, the word mystery in scripture never signifies a thing incomprehensible and unintelligible in its own nature ; which no penetration or sagacity whatever can unfold or explain. This is a false and erroneous idea annexed to the word by modern writers. The word in its proper acceptation, signifies only a thing hidden or concealed, which could not have been known without being revealed. But after it has been revealed, it ceases to be a mystery or secret thing any longer, and becomes open and manifest to all persons. How much has the lustre of our most holy religion been darkened ; and the plain sense of the scriptures obscured by the false notions and chimerical ideas of some of its mistaken professors! Let us take care my brethren, that no man seduce us from the purity of the faith ; and form us after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Let us
converse frequently with the sacred oracles, and endeavour to enter into their true spirit and genuine meaning : and that will be the best and most effectual preservative against error and delusion of every kind. To the one living and true God, the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning ; and from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, be glory by Christ Jesus, for ever, Amen.
JOHN xvii. 3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
When we entered upon the great and important doc. trine of the divine Unity, we proposed to make these words the ground work and basis of our reasoning ; and by an appeal to the scriptures at large, to endeavour to enforce and establish the following propositions.
First. That there is one person, or intelligent agent, who alone is God, supreme, almighty, and eternal : and that this one person is the Father, or, as he is some. times called in scripture, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God.'
Secondly, that Jesus Christ is not the most high God: but a being inferior to him, dependent upon him, and acting by his command and authority: or in other words his Son, Servant, and Messenger ; and by the Father's appointment, the Messiah, or only Mediator between God and man. • That they might know Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.'
And thirdly, and lastly, to consider and answer the objections, that the Trinitarians make to our hypothesis, and urge in support of their own, founded on various places both of the Old and New Testament.
The first of these propositions has been already fully considered, and in our fourth discourse we entered upon the proof of the second, viz. That Jesus Christ is not