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image of himself but one, and that is his own well-beloved Son Jesus Christ. Heb. i. 2. He is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person. He is the image of God, 2 Cor. iv. 4. and in Col. i. 15. He is the image of the invisible God. Now this expression seems to bave a prime reference to his human nature; or, as the learned and pious Doctor Goodwin asserts and proves, it must at least include bis human nature in it, because every thing that relates directly to the divine nature of Christ is as in visible as God the Father, and therefore his divine nature considered alone would never have been so particularly described as the image of the invisible God.
. VII. The great God bimself has required us to make this his image the medium of our worship ‘paid to hiin. Eph. ii. 18. By him we have access unto the Father. Col. iii. 17. Give thanks to God even the Father by him. And he also requires men and angels to worship this his image. Jolin v. 23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. Heb. i. 6. Let all the angels of God worship him. Thus far has the blessed God indulged or encouraged that natural inclination in man to reverence the image of that divine Being which he worships.
VIII. To this end it has pleased the great God in a special manner to assume into the nearest union with himself this his own Son, and thereby to render him a more complete image of himself: Thus the Son, who is the express image of the Father and the brightness or splendor of his glory; Heb. i. 3. is also one with the Father, as Christ expresses it; John xiv. 10. He that hath seen me, huth seen the Father : And the reason he gives is this, I am in the Father, and the Father in me. John X. 30. I and my Father are one, that is, by this union, as it is explained verse 38. And this is done not only to render him capable of his glorious offices, but of divine honours too; that Jesus Christ miglit be worshipped, and yet that according to God's original command, that which is not God might not be made the object of our worship. Since there cannot be more gods than one, and since proper deity could not be communicated to the man Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, to render him a partaker of our worship any other way, therefore proper deity is united to him that he might be one with God. And thus as the Word who was God was made flesh; John i. 1, 14. by his personal union to flesh, so the man Jesus inay be said to become God, or to be God, by his personal union to God.
Thus the human nature of Christ being a creature most like to God, and being inhabited also by godhead, is the brightest image of the invisible God, and is one with God himself, and that as our divines express it by a personal union : And thus he is taken into as much participation of that worship which men
pay to God, as a creature is capable of receiving, and as the. original law of worshipping none but God can admit. See Dissertation III.
IX. When the ancient heathens worshipped the images of their gods, the best way they could ever take to vindicate it was under this notion, that they supposed their gods to inhabit their own images, and thus they worshipped the image together with their God dwelling in the image : but with far better authority and with infinitely more justice and truth may christians worshin the Son of God who is the only appointed image of the only true God, subsisting in a personal union with the indwelling godhead.
X. This may be illustrated by a very lively similitude. A vast hollow globe of crystal, as large as the sun, is in itself a fair image or resemblance of the sun : But if we might suppose the sun itself included in this crystal globe, it would thereby become a much brighter and nobler image of the sun, and it would be in a sense one with the sun itself, or one complex being, And thus the same honourable ascriptions which are given to the sun because of his light and heat, might be given also to this crystal globe considered as inhabited by the sun itself, which could not be done without this inhabitation. Then whatsoever honours were paid to this globe of crystal would redound to the honour of the sun, even as the divine honour and adoration paid to our blessed Saviour arises from the personal union of the human nature with the divine, and finally redounds to the glory of God. Phil. ii. 11.
Let it be observed here, that though I borrow an emblem or a resemblance of this divine doctrine from the world of nature or from the heathen nations, yet the doctrine itself is entirely derived from scripture, and might easily be confirmed by many more citations out of the sacred writers.
· TO EXPLAIN
--II. That it may yet be of great Use to the Christian Church.-III. But all such Explications ought to be proposed with Modesty to the World, and never imposed on the Conscience.
Scheme of Explic creat Use tonight to be pro
SECTION J. THE first of these points is already argued in a discourse on the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, proposition XV. and we only take leave here to mention those heads of argument, and to enlarge a little on the same subject.
1. “ Any particular, explication of the scriptural doctrine of the Trinity can never be necessary to salvation, because, though the doctrine itself of three personal characters which have communion in one godhead, be clearly revealed, yet the modus how they are one, and how they are three, is not clearly and plainly revealed.” And indeed if this modus be revealed at all in scrips ture, yet it is in so obscure a manner, that we can come at it only by laborious reasonings and a train of difficult consequences; whereas all necessary articles are and must be clear and plain : and if they are not contained in express words, yet they must lie open and obvious to a natural and easy inference.
2. Any particular explication of this mystery is not necessary to salvation, because “ the most pious as well as the wisest and most learned christians have had very different sentiments on this subject, and gone into different schemes of explication ;" and that in the several ages of christianity, as well as in our present age. The very mention of the venerable names and opinions of Dr. Cudworth, Bishop Bull, Bishop Stillingfleet, Bishop Fowler, Bishop Pearson, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Owen, and Mr. Howe, is sufficient to confirm this second reason.
3. “ We may pay all due honours to the sacred Three, which are required in scripture, while we believe them to be represented as three personal agents, and as one in godhead, without any particular explication how they are one, and how they are three."
Now it is evident that scripture hath more directly and expressly laid our salvation upon the special divine characters or offices which the Father, Son, and Spirit sustain in the bible, and upon the peculiar blessings which we derive from them, and the peculiar honours to be paid to them, rather than upon any nice explication of their intimate essence and union, their nature and difference; and therefore such a nice explication is not of necessity to salvation. It is evident to me, that divine and religious ascriptions and honours are paid to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in scripture, and I think they are due to them all. Now how these divine honours can be paid by any who deny thein to have some true and proper communion in the eternal godhead, I cannot well understand. But I can easily conceive that divine honour may be given them without knowing exactly the precise points and boundaries of their union and distinction. See more in the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, Proposition XXI.
Do we pot find it sufficient in all the common affairs of life, to manage a thousand concerns wisely with regard to the human soul and body, and with regard to each particular being of the animal, the vegetable, and the intellectual world, if we do but just koow whether it be ap animal, a vegetable, or an intellectual being, without any determinate, pbilosophical notions and ideas of the essences and specific differences of all, or any of these, and without determining how far they agree, and how far they differ? And why inay it not be so in the affairs of religion? He may be a very wise man, and dispose and direct his affairs admirably well with regard to bis king, bis bishop, his father and his friend, by that common and general knowledge which he hath of their capacities and powers, their several offices and the relations they stand in to him, without any precise acquaintance with their particular natural constitutions, or the relations they stand in to one another. He may be a most discreet manager of his affairs, and speak and do all things in proper time and place, without knowing philosophically what place is, or what is time : and he can be contented with this ignorance, and be a wise man still. And why may he not be a christian with the same degrees of knowledge of the things of christianity, that is, without pliilosophical science of the abstract nature of God and Christ.
A poor labourer or a shepherd believes Jesus Christ to have the proper divine powers of knowing, managing and govercing all things; therefore he prays to him, and trusts in him as his Lord and his God, without any notion either of self-existence and independency, or without the least thought of consubstantial generation, eternal sonship, and necessary emanation from the Fathier ; all which ideas some writers include in the divine nature of Christ, though perhaps without any sufficient authority from scripture. He belieyes him to be the true God, and Sou of God, and the appointed Mediator to bring him to God; therefore he honours and adores him, and depends on him under that character, without any notion whether his sonship belong to bis human or divine nature. He believes him also to be the son of man, but perhaps he may not ever have heard whether he had an earthly Father or no, or that he was the son of a pure virgin. Now what is there in all this ignorance that forbids him to be a true christian and a sound believer? But I would pursue this arguinent a little, under some more parallel instances.
The learned world well knows what corporeal notions the fainous ancient father Tertullian had of the soul of man; what immaterial and refined opinions Des Cartes and his followers have entertained concerning the presence or place of spirits; and what were the contrary sentiments of Dr. Henry More and his admirers. Now may not a Tertullianist take proper care for the salvation of his soul, though he thinks the nature of it be corporeal! May vot the soul of a Cartesian find the right way to heaven, though he believes his soul has no relation to place, and exists no where, or in no certain place ? May he not worship God with acceptance in spirit and in truth, though he conceive God himself, as an infinitely wise and powerful mind void of all extension, and who hath no relation to place? And though he suppose his omnipresence to be nothing else but his universal knowledge and power and agency, through all times and places? And may not a Morist with the same acceptance worship the same God, though he believes him to be infinitely extended and penetrating all bodies and all possible spaces ? What is there in these philosophical particularities, that forbids a man to be truly pious, while he believes his soul to have an immortal being after this life, and while he supposes God to have all the requisite properties and powers for a Creator and Governor, and Judge of the world.
You will say, some of these persons hold gross inconsistencies, and believe impossibles, while they suppose “ a corporeal soul to be immortal; or a God infinitely extended through Jength, breadth and depth, who is a pure Spirit :" and therefore such a soul cannot be immortal, and such a God cannot know, or govern, or judge. I answer, It may possibly be so : These may be great inconsistencies; and yet a man may sincerely believe them both, who does not see the inconsistency of them. And if we must be condemned to bell for believing inconsistencies, then woe be to every son and daughter of Adam. What man is there in the world free from all error ? And yet every error which he holds, is perhaps inconsistent with some truth which he believes : It is hard to write anathema upon a man's forehead, because of some inconsistence in his opinions, while he