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whole scheme of the self-denial and sufferings of Christ, in a more glorious and advantageous light than their doctrine can pretend to do; and at the same time secures the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, with all the honors of his condescending grace, by the creature nature of Christ being always united to his Deity. Thus all this kind of pretences for the support of the Arian error is destroyed at once, by admitting this doctrine; which leads us to what very justly claims the place
5th. Advantage of this doctrine, viz. as it enables us to defend the doctrine of the Deity of CHRIST, with greater clearness, justice, and success against many other cavils of the Socinian and Arian writers. For while we keep this doctrine in our eye, we are by no means constrained to interpret any expression in the old testament con. cerning the Deity of Christ, which carries in it something inferior to the majesty of Deity; here we have a proper subject to receive these meaner attributions. There is no need to call the mere Deity of Christ a man, an angel, a messenger,-no need to animate a human shape with pure Deity in order to wrestle with Jacob, to eat and drink with Abraham,--appear in the form of a flame in the bush to Moses,-travel through the wilderness on a cloudy pillar in sight of all Israel, to direct the motions of their camp :--no need to suppose pure Deity talking with Joshua,-conversing familiarly with Gideon,-holding a plumb line in his hand while he stood on the wall in the view of Amos,
The Arian asserts, and not without shew of reason, that these condescensions are too low for the GREAT God of heaven and earth to practice : thence they infer, that the person to whom these
things are ascribed cannot be true God. Behold then this glorious spirit, the Son of Gov, the creature nature of Jesus CHRIST, the man united to Deity, appearing to perform these actions,-sustain these inferior characters,~-solve all this Arian difficulty; and yet rightly called GOD, LORD, JEHOVAH, and has the perfections and honors of Deity ascribed to him ; because he is truly God as well as man, though his created nature is the immediate agent in these inferior transactions,
6. There is another advantage that this doctrine has in it, viz. that there is not one text in the bible, nor one point or article of our faith that can receive any evil influence from it, no dangerous consequences can possibly attend it. Even some of the most learned defenders of the trinity have acknowledged, that they could see no danger of heresy in it, nor any injury to' sacred truth, though they themselves had not yet seen the doctrine in its full and convincing light.
It does not alter any of the particular schemes of doctrine which various persons have espoused; but sets the whole contrivance of salvation accord. ing to any of their schemes, so far as they are true, in a clearer and better light, and throws an impartial brightness upon the whole of the gospel.-Nor does it interfere with what can be understood in the schemes which men have invented to solve the difficulties of the trinity. The Socinian and Arian schemes are here to be excepted as quite inconsistent with this doctrine.
I shall conclude this set of arguments with a brief recapitulation of them. That there are many texts which have appeared dark, and have puzzled interpreters in all ages to reconcile them to their schemes of supporting the Deity of Christ, must be granted. Now could a sentiment be found in scripture, which would serve as a clue to lead into a plain solution of all these difficulties, and such an interpretation of these scriptures, as would be attended with the following advantages, viz.
1. Which gives the most natural, obvious, and literal sense; so that every common reader that has no preconceived notions or schemes of thought, must readily run into at the very hearing of it.
2. Which puts interpreters to no trouble of figures and metaphors, as prolepsis, i. e. speaking of things before they are done;–Catachreses, i. e. calling the eternal God without actual union to creature nature, a man, an angel, messenger, captain, &c.
3. Which is consistent with, and most agreeable to all the parts of the word of God, both in the old and new testaments: renders many texts easy and plain ; and sets the several parts of scripture in the most beautiful harmony.
4. Which makes no alterations in the important articles of faith; and consequently does not widen the common differences of the several parties of christians, but freely allows them their own sentiments in common controversies of religion :
5. Which assists us in answering all the objections of the opposers of the Deity of our blessed LORD, and also allures them to embrace the truth.
6. Which aggrandizes the personal glories of our LORD Jesus Christ, and raises his love
and condescension to the most amazing degree : and
7. Which spreads a new lustre over the whole gospel of Christ, and the various transactions recorded in the sacred word of God:
I say, suppose such a sentiment to serve as a clue to lead us into the understanding of the holy scriptures in the manner above described, I would humbly ask any impartial person who fears God, and loves truth with all his heart, whether it does not evidently illustrate the truth of the gospel, and lead the mind in an easy way into the very meaning of the sacred writers? And whether it has not sufficient force of evidence in it to command, and allurement to invite our assents ?_Such is the doctrine of the ancient glories of the creature nature of our LORD Jesus Christ, which was the beginning of the creation of God, and the first-born of every creature.
THOUGH a doctrine be proved by sufficient force of argument, there may still various difficulties be proposed to perplex it. But if the difficulties are not of equal force with the arguments in support of it, reason requires that we should give our assent to the doctrine, and wait till providence gives clearer light to scatter the clouds that may be supposed to hang upon it. I agree with a very learned author, · That in this doctrine the difficulty of every thing vanishes, except that of bringing men off from expounding the scriptures by human authorities as the key of the divine
oracles ; and without doubt, there the difficulty will lie when all is said.'-However I shall make it
appear that the difficulties which are supposed to attend this doctrine may have a fair solution ; and I hope none will say, that I have not given them their full light and strength. By removing these stumbling blocks, tender and scrupulous christians may be more easily induced to receive this doctrine, and pay the proper honors to our blessed LORD.
Obj. 1. Is not Christ in scripture called a MAN? Now the glorious being you describe with such extensive powers, is above a human soul ; it is far above angels, and therefore though united to a body it will not make a MAN.
Ans. 1. The name man denotes a nature, made up of mind or spirit united to an animal body in human shape. But the name angel signifies originally a messenger, and denotes an office sustained by a spirit, either with, or rather without a human body.
2. All the idea which I have of a human sout is this, a created mind or spirit which hath understanding and will, and rational powers, and which is fitted to be united to a human body, in such a manner as to exert the powers of a man, to feel the appetites, sensibilities, and passions of a man, to receive impressions or sensations, pleasant or painful, by the means of that body, and is also able to actuate and influence all the animal powers of that body in a way agreeable to human nature. Now though the powers of Christ's soul be far superior to the most exalted man dr angel ; yet this does not hinder it from being properly a human soul, as it is still capable of, and fit for such an union to a human body.