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We do not say that the subsistences in the ever blessed Trinity are three and one in the same sense; but that they are three in one sense, and one in another sense. They are three in subsistence, and yet one in essence. Each subsistence is divine, possessed of essential deity, but each subsistence is not a distinct God; otherwise we might be justly charged with holding that there are three Gods, and yet one God. Where, then, is the absurdity of our doctrine? or where the inconsistency of "worshipping One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity?”
But if the first clause in our text assert nothing but what we maintain to be one of the "first principles of the oracles of God," still less can the second clause be considered as inimical to our theological views. But whether it be not most inimical to the views of our opponents on the grand and important doctrine of our redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ, I leave to every unprejudiced mind to determine. "There is one Mediator;" and that one Mediator "gave himself a ransom for all." Oh! this is a doctrine which we indeed cleave unto-a doctrine which we love with the best affections of our hearts-a doctrine which is the foundation of all our present peace, and all our future hopes. Would that they also saw their need of it, and could rejoice with us, in the humble assurance, that "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin"!
To those of my hearers who understand Greek, I need not say that the original term here translated "ransom," implies the offering of life as the price of deliverance. The original word is ἀντίλυτρον, a compound of ἀντὶ, signifying "corresponding to," or "in return for," and λúτρov, a ransom, or price paid. Combine the two together, and the signification is evident: it is "a correspondent ransom." And thus it is employed by classical writers, to
denote that kind of deliverance by which the life of one person is redeemed by the life of another.*
And is not this precisely the redemption which our one only Mediator, Jesus Christ, has effected for us? Did he not purchase us with his own precious blood? Did he not ransom us with his own life? If he did not, he failed to fulfil his purpose, and his promise: for, what did he declare to his disciples, when he was about to endure his last tragical sufferings? "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."+
But there is one clause more in the text, and in that we must, surely, find something at variance with our creed, something at least, which gives a sensible advantage to the Unitarian opponent. The clause is as follows:"The Man Christ Jesus." "There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus."
And is it really meant to be implied by the selection of this passage as one of the rallying points of Unitarianism, that we are less willing than they are to dwell upon the proper manhood of our Saviour? If so, they are greatly mistaken. For my own part, I can honestly avow that there is no doctrine in the Book of Inspiration, on which I am accustomed to dwell with more heartfelt gratitude and delight, than that of the humanity of my Lord. Oh! the happiness of believing that as he is very God, so is he very man-that, as in his uncreated Deity he "dwells in light inaccessible, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see," so in his humanity he comes down to my comprehension, or at least to my sensibilities and sympathies, and I can
Aristotle, for instance, uses the verb άvTiλUTρów for redeeming life
† Matt. xx. 28.
think of him as one that dwelt here below in a fleshly tabernacle like my own,-as one who was perfected for his mediatorial work by the sufferings which he endured,— as one touched with the feelings of my infirmities, having been in all points tempted like as I am!
To this interesting and important subject, then,
THE PROPER HUMANITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,
which is the special subject for this evening's Lecture, let us now direct our most serious attention.
To simple minded and unlettered persons, it may seem strange, at first sight, that mistakes on this point could ever have been made. Yet, ecclesiastical history assures us that, at a very early period, there existed some who entertained the most fatal errors on the subject of our Lord's humanity. They were generally termed Gnostics; and though, like our opponents, they denied that Christ possessed more than one nature, yet, as to the nature itself which they did attribute to him, they were the very antipodes of modern Unitarians; for whilst they admitted that he was truly the Son of God, super-angelic and divine, they denied that he was truly man. Not having any fixed principles (a characteristic of all sects who glory in discarding formularies and creeds), they invented a thousand theories as to the person of our Lord, and the doctrines which he taught, and all with a view to reconcile Christianity with the ever-varying notions of "a philosophy, falsely so called." ·
Both among Oriental and Greek Philosophers, it was a favourite notion, that whatever was joined to matter was necessarily contaminated by it, and that the highest perfection of this life was abstraction from material things,
and in the life to come, a total and final separation from the body. Hence they inferred the absurdity of supposing the possibility of an union of a divine being with a human body, inasmuch as his ineffable purity would be thereby necessarily defiled: and not doubting that Christ was truly "the Son of God," their only alternative was to reject the doctrine of his humanity. It was probably on similar grounds that the persons to whom St. Paul alludes in his second Epistle to Timothy,* called in question the resurrection of the dead, "saying, that it was passed already, and overthrowing the faith of some.' They gave it, doubtless, some spiritual or figurative signification, and so explained it all away.
But from these strange and erroneous opinions of men, let us now turn to the unerring declaration of the Word of God. The establishment of the doctrine itself will require but few quotations, and still fewer arguments: but it is desirable that we state explicitly what we believe, both for the silencing of gainsaying adversaries, and for the building up of believers in their most holy faith.
We believe, then, in "all simplicity and godly sincerity," that Jesus Christ, our Lord, was truly and properly a MAN. We believe that he not only appeared to be a man, having an external aspect like our own, but that he was really a man. We believe that he had a corporeal and mental existence like our own,-that he possessed a body of flesh and blood precisely such as is common to our race, and that, in that body dwelt a rational soul, to whose volitions it was subject. We believe, because we are assured by unerring testimony, that he was conceived in the womb, born a helpless infant, and dependent upon the care of his parents through the whole of his childhood and youth. Though he seems to have displayed extraordinary wis
* 2 Tim. ii. 18.
dom and sagacity at the early age of twelve years, when he was capable of conversing with the learned, and of hearing and asking them questions, yet, we believe, that his intellectual powers were gradually unfolded, as in other children, increasing with increasing years, until he arrived at an adult age. The Evangelist Luke, indeed, distinctly informs us, that "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom-that the grace, or favour, of God was upon him-and that he increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."
Nor are we backward to admit, that, when he grew up to man's estate, he was still subject to all the innocent infirmities of manhood. He was liable, as we are, to the inconvenience arising from toil and labour, from hunger and thirst, from cold and nakedness, as well as from all the injuries which can be inflicted on the person by the hand of violence. And was not his short but eventful life full of such sufferings? It was when he was weary with his journey, that he sat at the well of Jacob-it was when he was thirsty, that he requested the woman of Samaria to give him drink-it was when he was hungry, that he tarried whilst the disciples went into the neighbouring town to purchase food-it was when he had not a place where to lay his head, that the Samaritans refused to receive him, "because his face was as though he would go up to Jerusalem" --it was when every nerve quivered with pain and anguish, that the crown of thorns was pressed upon his bleeding brow, the "long furrows plowed upon his back," and the nails driven through his hands and feet.
Nor was his human mind less susceptible of every innocent impression than our minds are. On some occasions he mourned, and on other occasions rejoiced. He tasted of the pleasures of hope, and of the pains of disappointed expectation. He experienced a sensible enjoy