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An eminent writer in defence of the divine unity, and also a confessor for this glorious cause, has so well ex. posed the fallacies of our opponents upon this subject, that it would be doing an injury to the cause of truth, not to insert what he has advanced upon it. I shall make therefore no ápology for introducing a long and valuable quotation from him into this discourse. It is to be observed. that the author argues sometimes Ad HOMINEM ; that is to say, upon the principles of his adversaries, and proves even that the consequences will not follow, although the premises be admitted. “ What can be said against these plain arguments ? I imagine our opponents have but one shift left for the evading them, and that is a distinction which serves them in all cases ; for they say, Jesus Christ speaks these things of himself, as man only, while he had another nature as God, which he reserved and excepted out of the case: for when he says, I cannot do thus myself, or I am not to be called the chief good, or, do not know this, &c. according to them the meaning is, I have not these perfections in my human nature; but yet I know and can do all unassisted, and am the chicf good in my divine nature, which also is more properly myself. The vanity of which subterfuge, I intend now to lay open, by shewing how absurdly this distinction of the two natures is pretended, to take off the force of such expressions from Christ's own mouth, which in their natural and un. disguised appearance do proclaim his inferiority to God, even the Father. And I shall dwell the more upon this, because it is the most popular and common evasion, and comes in at every turn, when all other relief fails. It would be no unreasonable demand to ask, what intimation of any such distinction of two natures they can point us to, in any of those discourses of Christ. Why should men devise or imagine for him such a strange, and seem. ingly deceitful way of speaking from no ground, nor ne. cessity, other than that of upholding their own precarious opinion? But I have several remarks to make upon this
"1. That which is the first place I have to object a. gainst it is, that our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, if himself supreme God in
any nature of his own, could not have said such things, as I conceive, in any consistency
with truth and sincerity (which he always maintained strictly), he could not say himself could not do, or did not know the thing, which all this while himself could do, änd did know very well, as to be sure if he was the su. preme God, he could and did; for this were to make him say what is most false, and to equivocate in the most deceitful manner : for though we should suppose he consisted of two infinitely distant patures, and so had two capacities of knowledge, &c. Yet since himself includes them bothy it follows, that the denying a thing of himself in absolute terms, without any limitation in the words or other obvi. ous circumstances, does plainly imply a denial of its belonging to any part of his person, or any nature in it. For though we may affirm a thing of a person which belongs only to a part of him ; as I may properly say a man is wounded or hurt, though it be only in one member, sup. pose an arm ; yet I cannot justly deny a thing of him which belongs only to one part, because it belongs not to another; as I cannot say a man is not wounded, because though one arm be shot or wounded, yet the other is whole.
“ For instance, I have two orgabs of sight, two eyes. Now
suppose I converse with a man with one eye shut and the other open ; if being asked whether I saw him, İ should dare to say I saw him not (without any limitation), meaning to myself, that I saw him not with the eye
which was shut, though still I saw him well enough with the eye which was open; I fear I should bear the reproach of a liar and deceiver, notwithstanding such a mental reserva. tion as some would attribute to the holy Jesus. For knowledge is the eye of the person , Jesus Christ is supa posed to have two of these knowing capacities : the one weak, the other strong and piercing, that discerns all things. Now as such an one, the disciples repair to him and ask him, when the end of the world and time of his coming shall be. He answers them, by giving them some general account of the matter, but says that the particular day and hour he knew not, nor did any know but the Father, meaning (say my opposers) that he knew it not with his human knowledge, though he knew it well enough with his dis vine, at the same time that he said the son knows it not, absolutely and indefinitely. And yet if Jesus Christ had a
divine koowledge and nature, no doubt his disciples (who if any body, must be supposed to believe it) directed the question to that, rather than to the imperfect human capacity , and yet in answer to it he says, he knew not the day, which would not be counted sincerity or truth in men, much less was Jesus Christ in danger of it, in his mouth no guile was ; let us not impute it to him. That you may see this is fair reasoning, hear how some of the other side own it, when out of the heat of this controversy. See Dr. Stillingfleet's sermon on Mat. 4. 16. speaking of the equivocations of popish priests whose common answer when examined about what they have known by confession, is that they know it not, which they think to vindicate from the charge of lying, by saying, that in confession, the priest knows matters as God," not as man, and therefore he denies to kgow them, meaning it as man. But says the Doctor, this is absurd; because to say he does not know, is as much as to say he doth not any way kaow. Now it this be a good answer against the papists, as no doubt it is, then sure it is so in the present case. Therefore when Christ says he knows not the day of judgment, it is as much as to say he does not any way know it, and consequently, it is a vain shift to say, it was as man only : we must beware least we bring the holy Jesus under such a reproach for equivocation, as the Romish priests lie under ; and make the Jesuits themselves think they have a good title to that name, by imitating herein his example, which in this very instance they allege with so great advantage, according to this interpretation,"?
. 2. As a farther evidence, that Jesus Christ intended ņo such distinction of two natures as is pretended, it is to be observed, that he puts not the distigction or opposition between the son of man, and the eternal word, (as some speak) but between the Son and his Father ; not the San knows, but only the Father; by which it is plain, he had no thought of including any person or nature of his own among the excepted; for whatever was not the Father, he says was ignorant of that day. Now it is certain, that in no nature was the Son the Father; and consequently where none but the Father knows, none who is not the F* ther, can be intended : and since our Lord was making an exception in the case, he would not have forgotten to ex.
çept the eternal Word too, if there had been such a di. vine principle in himself, equal to the Father and distinct from him ; for it is a known rule, that an exception from a general assertion confirms it, as to other instances not excepted. Will they say, that by the Father is meant all the three persons here, viz. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? What! can the Father as opposed to the Son, be put for the Father and the Son ? What woeful work will this make with scripture, to suppose that what are opposed to each other do include each other, under the very
charac. ters by which they are opposed ? As well may they say that in the baptismal form, by the Father is meant, Father, Son and Spirit, though he be distinguished from the other two. And I should despair of ever understanding the scriptures above all books that ever were written, at this rate of interpretation. No doubt, therefore, but the Father, as opposed to the Son, excludes all that is the Son; and then there could be no Son of God that knew of that day which only the Father knew of, and consequently no son that is God equal to the Father.
“ 3. Moreover, that interpretation must needs be un. just, which, if admitted, will make all, even the most plain speech, uncertain, and utterly insignificant; as this interpretation of Christ's words would do. For as I ask the patrons of this opinion, in what words Jesus Christ could in brief have denied himself to be God most high, more plain and full than these in which he says, he knew not all things as the Father did, nor could do all things, &c. So I would fain have them shew me, what words of that nature' he could have used, which the same way of interpretation as they here use, will not evade and make insignificant. For had he said or sworn in plain words, thus, viz. 'I tell you I am not the supreme God, and none but my
Father has that glory ; they would upon the same reason still have said, this was to be understood of him as man only. So that no words professing himself not to be God, could be a proof of it, if this way of interpretation be allowed. I may therefore safely say thus much, that the blessed Jesus has declared himself not to be the supreme God, or equal to the Father, as plainly as words could speak, or in brief express; and that this declaration made by him already, is not to be evaded any other way,
than what will make it impossible his mind should be understood by any words he could have designedly used in the matter. Let any one try if this do not hold true ; and sure it must be an absurd way of interpretation, which leaves a man no opportunity or power of speaking his mind plainly so as to be understood.
“4. Again, this way of interpretation, which the ad. vocates of the opinion I oppose, are so much necessitated to for upholding their cause, does plainly overthrow it again, and may be turned against themselves : for if it be just and true to deny of Christ absolutely what belongs to him in one nature, because there is another nature in which it belongs not to him ; then, since to be the chief God be longs to him (according to our adversaries) only in one nature, and not in respect of the other, or human nature, it follows that it may as justly be said, Jesus Christ is not God, nor to be worshipped or trusted as such ; nay, that he was not before the Virgin Mary, according to them and the like; and this without adding any limitation or restriction any more than our Lord does in the place mentioned. What would they say to one who should speak or preach so, that Jesus is not God, that he cannot do all things, nor is equal to the Father, &c.? Would they not conclude he was a denier of the deity of Christ, else he never would speak so unguardedly? Upon the same account, when Jesus Christ himself says, that he cannot of himself do all things, nor knows all things, and makes no reserves in bis words, we may conclude he also denies his being supreme God; else, if it be a just way of speaking in him, it cannot be unjust in us to imitate him, by deny-, ing him indefinitely to be what he in any one nature is not, i. e. that he is not God, without adding more. Nay, after this way of speaking, which they attribute to Christ, a man may be taught to say his creed backward, and yet make a true profession of his faith, by denying of Jesus Christ in absolute expressions, whatever may be denied of one of his natures. Thus, since the apostles creed takes notice of nothing to be believed concerning Christ, but what belongs to his manhood, (which is strange, if there were any articles relating to his supreme deity, which must be most important) one may venture to deny them all, with this secret unexpressed reserve, viz. meaning it of