« FöregåendeFortsätt »
no honors from creatures; and before his incarnation he had not such sublime and distinct honors paid to his human nature, as he has now in heaven.
3. It is very plain, that though the creature nature of Christ might enjoy a glorious degree of honor and happiness before his incarnation, yet it could not arrive at its perfection of appointed happiness, but by its union with a human body. The spirits of departed saints, though they enjoy happiness in the world of spirits; yet neither their honor nor happiness is complete till joined to immortal bodies, when they shall enjoy sensations of pleasure which complete their honor and happiness. The sensible survey they acquire of their exaltation by being united to a glorified body, is an honor and happiness they could not enjoy in a separated state.
Thus the soul of Christ having passed through the sorrows of life, and the painful sensations which arose from its union to flesh in his suffering state, was exalted to greater honor and happiness by being united to a body raised in power and glory. He received all the intense pleasure and unknown sensations of delight, which possibly can be conveyed to a spirit by the medium of a glorified body, as a reward of his sensations of pain in the body of humiliation. He has the honor and pleasure of taking in, by methods unknown to us, all the honors done to him by the whole creation-beholding with a vast and comprehensive survey, all the subjection and obedience of known and unknown worlds—and the acclamations of glorified hosts paid to his Deity dwelling in, and displayed from, his glorified body. He says, Therefore doth iny Father love me because I lay down my life." His Father loved him “ before the foundation of the world."| This additional love must then refer to the additional manifestations of it in his exalted state, as the reward of his finishing the work his Father gave him to do.
Obj. 5. If the soul of Christ had a being before his incarnation, how is it expressed, that God was manifest in the flesh,--that the Word was God, and this Word was made flesh ? Would it not have been more proper to say, the soul of Christ was made flesh, or manifested in flesh?
Ans. 1. The way of expressing the incarnation of Christ in the new testament is, by representing the Son of God as coming in the flesh,Christ coming into the world,--the Son of God made of a woman, the Son of God sent into the world, &c. Now these words denote the soul of CHRIST under the character of the Mes. siah. This was the Son of God who was united to flesh and blood. There is no other way of understanding them without we say, that the term Son of God refers to his Deity, which necessarily carries in it the notion of derivation, dependence, and inferiority, which is the same as giving up the doctrine of his Deity to the Arians.
In some places God is represented as appearing in flesh, with a special design to aggrandize the inys. tery of the incarnation, and spread divine gloriesover
and it is a solemn truth, that God was manifest in the flesh, but it is always to be remembered, that the more immediate subject of union to flesh was the soul of Christ. The term Logos, or Word,
Jobn x. 17.
of John xvii. 24,
includes the soul of Christ united to Deity, and in that sense, “ The Word was made flesh.”
Obj. 6. This doctrine explains some of those scriptures to another sense, which were wont to be employed in defence of the divinity of CHRIST, by applying them to his pre-existent soul; it indeed exalts his human nature, but perhaps it weakens the sacred article of his proper Deity, by withdrawing some of the proofs of it.
Ans. There are many and different arguments drawn from the scriptures to support the Deity of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, which cannot with any kind of evidence, truth, or justice, be turned to any other sense, and it is by such arguments as these that doctrine must be established; for if it be possible with justice to the text and context to interpret a scripture otherways, and apply it to the creature nature of Christ, it can never be a convincing and effectual proof of his Deity.
It is no injury to any cause to remove those arguments from it which are in themselves feeble and unsupporting, lest when an adversary finds several of them trifling and utterly insignificant, he should be tempted to despise all the rest. Any text that is used to prove a doctrine that in its most natural, proper, and rational sense, and in its relation to the context, does signify something else, in such a case, that text had much better be dropped or left out in proof of that doctrine. Therefore, if the texts used above are in a much more natural, proper, easy, and obvious manner applied to the creature nature of Christ than they are or can be to his pure Deity, it is better to drop them in that argument; for reason and common sense will lead us to give them the most natural exposition and apply them as above. We ought not to deal falsely
with the word of God, nor give it an unfair and improper sense under pretence of supporting the greatest truth. The truth of God,—the gospel of CHRIST, need none of our feeble artifices.
It should be well observed here, that several of the texts applied to the creature nature of CHRIST, cannot be properly applied to it, considered alone or by itself, without the consideration of the union to his Deity, as Col. i. Heb. i. &e. And in this view they continue to support the Deity of Christ: and when set in this light, they render the proofs of his Deity, more defensible, and at once maintain the sacred idea of CHRIST our mediator, as the great THEANTHROPOS,-GOD
Obj. 7. It is objected, that this paves the way to lead us into the Arian party, since it agrees in so many parts with their sentiments of their Logos, which they call the divine nature of CHRIST.
Ans. This objection has been partly answered above: nor is there the least danger while we maintain the necessity of the union of Deity, to the preexistent creature nature, to make it capable of the names, titles, honors, prerogatives, and works ascribed to it in scripture, which are incommunicably divine.
But on the other hand, why may not the reader be so charitable as to say, that it paves the way for the ARIANS to come to orthodox sentiments concerning the Deity of Christ? Since it removes their greatest objections against our faith in that particular. It transplants their strongest allurements and the fairest colors of their arguments into our own doctrine, and thereby renders their pretences to support their own scheme, feeble, ineffectual, and needless. It enjoys all the advantages which their scheme pretends to ; without any of the difficulties and inconveniences with which their opinion is incumbered. And I must hope, that if ever the modern refiners of the Arian doctrine are allured to the truth, it must be by the means of this doctrine and the happy consequences which attend it. Had it been set in its fairest light, and published in the days of the Nicene council, it would have prevented the fatal and bloody contests that took place in succeeding ages; it would have been a happy medium to reconcile the Arians to the common faith.
Obj. 8. Could such a doctrine as this be true, and the disciples of Christ know nothing of it in his life time :-nor the apostles express it in plainer langauage in their writings :nor the primitive fathers declare it as the sentiment of the church:nor our own divines in these enlightened days since the reformation proclaim it to the world?
Ans. As for the disciples during the life of CHRIST, they most probably had the same opinions concerning the soul of the Messiah which the Jews had in, and before their times; and that was, that the Messiah's soul was formed from the beginning of the world. Surely if they thought, (as is ge
rally supposed) that all human souls pre-existed, they would believe the soul of CHRIST had the same prerogative.
The several expressions which our Savior used concerning his coming down from heaven--his returning thither--being sent by the Father not to do his own will—praying for the restoration of a glory which he had before the world was--speaking of the love of God which he enjoyed before the