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The Eternal Godhead of our Saviour is the only
certain Foundation of all our Hopes of Salvation and Immortal Life.
Do not at present design to engage in that
Son. He is in Scripture calld God, the Son of God, the only begotten Son of God: And the Catholick Church in all Ages has understood this of the eternal Son of God, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one Substance with the Father, by whom all things were made ; and expressed a very warm Zeal for this Faith ; and that with great Reason, since our Hopes of Salvation depend on it. And were Men but made sensible of what Consequence it is to believe our Lord Jesus Christ to be the eternal Son of God, they would not easily part with this Faith, nor wantonly reject it. For,
1. Let us consider what kind of Christianity those Men profess, who reject the eternal Godhead of the Son ; how a Creature Saviour alters the very Reason and Nature of all our Hopes.
For, i. Such Men have no Father in their Religion, as the object of their Faith and Worship. The Socinians indeed, who deny the eternal Godhead of Christ , as he is the eternal Son of God by Nature, yet call God Father, and pray, as Christ hath taught us, Our Father, which art in Heaven ; but the Question
is, Under what Notion they do, or can call God Father? Is this a natural or acquired Relation ? Is God our Father, and we his Children, by Nature, or by Adoption? A natural Relation between God and us, without our Adoption in Christ, can be founded only in his making us, and our being made by him; and thus Father signifies no more than a Maker , which makes all Mankind equally the Sons of God, as being all his Creatures ; but I do not remember that God is ever called the Father of Men in the Old Testament, merely upon account of Creation; however, it is certain, this is not the Gospel Notion of it. None are the Sons of God but Christians, and they are Sons not by Nature, but by Regeneration and Adoption, and it is in Christ Jesus that we receive the Adoption of Sons; we are made the Sons of God by Faith in Christ Jesus; to as many as received him, to them be gave Power to be called the Sons of God, even to as many as believe on bis Name'; who were born, not of Blood, nor of the Will of the Flesh, nor of the Will of Man, but of God, 1 John xii. 13. who are Sons, not by Nature, but by Adoption and Grace. And therefore this Title and Character of Father, which is the peculiar Name of God under the Gospel, has an immediate Relation to Christ; he is the Father of our Lord Jesus, and this is the Reason why God sent his Son into the World, to make us his Sons. When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth bis Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the Adoption of Sons, Galat. iv. 4, 5. Those who deny the Divinity of our Saviour, do, and must own all this in some Sense or o
ther; unless they reject the Gospel, which teaches all this in express Words ; but I would desire you to observe what a vast Difference there is between the Socinian Account of God's being our Father, and what the true Catholick Faith gives us of it. For our Relation to God as our Father being resolved into our Adoption in Christ, it must bear some Analogy and Proportion to that Relation which Christ has to God, as to his Father. So that if Christ be a mere Man, he is not the Son of God by Nature himself, but a mere nominal and adopted Son ; and then we are the adopted Sons of God in an adopted Son, which is a very remote and slender Relation, and does not answer to those magnificent Expressions in Scripture concerning our Adoption and Sonship. Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God, i John
But what a mighty Thing is this for God to call Christ his Son, who is not his Son by Nature, and then to call us his Sons in Chrift? For according to this Doctrine, it is inerely to call us Sons, it is a mere arbitrary Name; for where there is no natural Foundation for the Relation, there is no natural Reason for the Name, but God might have called us any thing else as well as Sons, had he so pleased. But if Christ be the eternal Son of God, and we be united to Christ as Members of his Body, here is a natural Foundation for our Adoption in Chrift, for this Covenant Relation of Father and Sons, between God the Father of Christ, and all sincere Chriftians, who are the Members of Christ, the myftical Body of the Son of God; for thus the Relation lies, We are Christ's, and Cbrift is God's, as St. Paul speaks, 1 Cor. iii. 23.
And therefore such as the Relation is between God and Christ, and between Christ and us, such is our Relation to God: Christ is the Son of God by Nature, of the fame Substance with his Father, and inseparably One with him ; we are not the Members of Christ by Nature ; but this Son of God, having taken upon him human Nature, all Mankind have a Relation to human Nature, and that is a natural Foundation for a Covenant Relation between Christ and Christians as the Members of his Body. Human Nature by its personal Union to the Son of God, is one with the Son ; for the Son of God is by his Incarnation both God and Man in one Person ;. we are naturally related to Christ, as having the same Nature with him, and therefore are capable of being united to his Myftical Body by Faith and Regeneration, of becoming Members of his Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones, of being One with him, and in him with the Father, as our Saviour prays for all his fincere Disciples, that they all may be One, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, John xvii. 21. Now when we are thus mystically united to Christ, as to be one with him, to be Members of his Body, and Branches in this spiritual Vine, we must have the same Kind of Relation to God, that Christ has ; if God be the Father of Christ by Nature, and eternal Generation, he must be our Father by Adoption in Christ ; because we are his, and according to the Nature of our Union to him, must be related to God his Father.
This gives a sensible Account of the Nature and Reason of our Adoption in Chrift: If God had no Son by Nature, there can be
no Foundation for Adoption ; for to adopt is to receive one, who is not a Son by Nature, into the Place, Relation, and consequent Rights and Privileges of a natural Son ; but if there be no Son by Nature, there is no such Relation, nor Privileges to be adopted to. A Man, who has no Son of his own, may adopt a Son, because there is such a Relation in human Nature, as that between a Father and a Son, and the Rights and Privileges of it are well known; but if there be no such Relation in the divine Nature, if God have no Son by Nature, there can be no Foundation for Adoption, because there is no such natural Relation in God, nor any natural Rights belonging to it. And therefore St. John tells us, He that denieth the Son, who denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, hath not the Father, hath not God for his Father; for there is no eternal Father, if there be no eternal Son; and if we deny God to be a Father, he can be none of our Father ; but he that acknowledgelb the Son, hath the Father also, i John ii. 23.
John ii. 23. And for this Reason the Apostle uses those Expressions, of continuing in the Son and the Father, v. 24. of denying the Father and the Son, v. 22. of having the Father and the Son, Ep. ii. 9. For God is no Father in a true and proper Sense, if he have not a Son of his own Nature ; and then he cannot be our Father by Adoption. So that to deny the Son is to deny the Father, but to have the Son, is to have the Father also.
Well, suppose then that this is the true Gofpel Notion of God's being the Father, and of our Adoption in Christ to be his Sons, what greater Happiness does this signify, than what S 3