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Through the whole course of his ministry we perceive him to have had all the innocent infirmities of human nature. In the end he died, and was raised from the dead, in testimony to the truth of the important doctrine taught by him, and as a pattern of that resurrection, of which he assured his faithful followers.
St. Peter preaching to the Jews at Jerusalem, soon after our Lord's resurrection and ascension, says, Acts ii. 22. “ Ye men of Israel, hear these words : Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know-him God hath raised up.”
St. Paul preaching at Athens says, Acts xvii. 31. “God hath appointed a day in which he will
judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.”
Gal. iv. 4. “ When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
1 Tim. ii. 5. “ For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”
2 Tim. ii. 8. “ Remember, that Jesus Christ of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel.'
The apostle to the Hebrews (a great part of whose design in that epistle is to represent the great dignity of Jesus above Moses, and as exalted highly after his resurrection, and ascension to heaven) does as clearly and fully assert the human nature of Jesus, as any writer of the New Testament.
The argument in Heb. ii. 14-18, must be understood to imply true and perfect humanity, of soul as well as body. “ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same : that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil : and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels. But he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The meaning is, for he is not the deliverer of angels, but of the seed of Abraham. “ Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath been tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted :” or in ch. iv. 15. “ For we have not an high priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” In order to be tempted like as we are, he must have been like us, having a reasonable [human) soul and [human] body.
The apostle likewise in the former part of that second chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews goes upon the supposition of the Lord Jesus being a man, ver. 549. “ For unto the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, of which we speak : but one in a certain place,” meaning Ps. viii. “ testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels : thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet-But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man, crowned with glory and honour for the suffering of death.”
Well then, they of this scheme, from these and other texts conclude · Jesus to be a man,
• he is of our kind and nature.' Manton upon Heb. ii. 11.
• Christ is called the son of .man, not to deny his god• head, but to express the verity of his human nature, and
that he was of our stock and lineage. He might have been 'true man, though he had not come of Adam, but his human
nature had been framed out of the dust of the ground, as • Adam's was, or created out of nothing. “ But he that sanc* titieth, and they that are sanctified, are of one. For which 'cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. ji. 11. • He would be of the mass and stock with us.' Dr. Thomas Manton upon Luke xix. 1. Vol. IV. p. 883.
• They are said to be of one. This denotes the union that ' is between them. They are of one stock and lineage, or 'one common parent of mankind. Hence Luke carrieth up the genealogy of Christ unto Adam. Luke ii. 38; so that
Afterwards, ' Christ is our kinsman : not only true man, • but the son of man. True man he might have been, if God • had created him out of noihing, or he had brought his substance froin heaven. But he is the son of man, one de
scended from the love of Adam, as we are. And so does * redeem us, not only jure proprietatis, by virtue of his inte• rest in us, as our Creator ; but jure propinquitatis, by virtue
of kindred, as one of our stock and lineage: as the son of ‘man, as well as the son of God. For Jesus Christ, of all the • kindred, was the only one that was free, and able to pay a • ransom for us.' As before, p. 1084.
with a reasonable human soul, and human body, born of the virgin Mary, by the especial interposition of God himself. Which leads us to the other thing, that God was with him.
That special favour and privilege is variously expressed. In the discourse of Peter at the house of Cornelius, before referred to. Acts x. 36-38. " That word which God sent unto the children of Israel, which was published throughout Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism, which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were possessed of the devil. For God was with him.",
John the baptist, near the conclusion of his ministry, bears this testimony to Jesus. « He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him,” John iii. 34.
Matt. i. 22, 23. “ Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, A virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us.”
Col. ij. 9. “ For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” or really.
Which is much the same with what is observed by the evangelist John i. 14. " And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory, as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
And all these expressions in the New Testament are agreeable to the descriptions of the Messiah in ancient prophesy. So Is. xi. 1, 2. “ And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him : the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.”
Which is the very same with what John Baptist calls “giving the Spirit without measure,” John iii. 34, and the same with “ the Spirit's abiding on him, and remaining on him," see John i. 32, 33.
For clearing up this matter, it should be observed, that they who are of this opinion do not understand by the Son of God an intelligent spirit, equal with God the Father, and of the same substance and power, nor an angelical, or superangelical spirit, formed before the creation of this material and visible world. But, in their apprehension, it is the man Jesus, who is the Son of God. And the Son of God, by way of eminence and distinction, or the well-beloved Son of God, and only begotten Son of God, as they suppose, are all terms of equivalent import and meaning, denoting the Messiah.
When there came a voice from heaven, or from the most glorious Majesty, or the presence of God, saying: “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. « Hear ye him:” they think this to be the same, as a solemn declaration, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world, who knew, and was to reveal the will of God to others, in a more perfect manner than any of the prophets had done.
The Son of God, or the only begotten Son of God, is the man most dear to God. He is the Christ. And the Christ, and the Son of God, are the same.
When God sent Moses back to Egypt, from whence he had filed, he was charged with this commission. Exod. iv. 22, 23. “ Thus shalt thou say unto Pharaoh : thus saith the Lord : Israel is my son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee: Let my son go, that he may serve me.” The children of Israel were God's chosen people, dear to him, and his special care, above all people of the earth. Israel therefore is called his son. We see a like style in some other texts. Jer. xxxi. 9. “ For I am a father unto Israel. And Ephraim is my first-born.” Hos. xi. 1. “ When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
And Christians, who believe in Jesus, and through him, are brought nigh to God, are God's children and sons: John i. 12. “ As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” 1 John iii. 1. “Behold, what inanner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” Gal. iii. 26. “ Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” But Jesus “is the Son of God,” by way of eminence. He is “the first-born among many brethren,” Rom. viii. 29. How Jesus is the Son of God, has been shewn formerly. I rehearse here briefly only. He
See Pages 197 and 200.
is the Son of God, as he was born of a virgin, by the immediate and extraordinary interposition of the divine power. He is the Son of God, as he had the Spirit without measure, and the Father's fulness was poured out upon him ; or the Deity dwelled in him. And he was afterwards declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead on the third day. He is the first-begotten from the dead, who died and rose again, and dies no more, but lives for ever. And he is exalted to God's right hand, being invested with authority and dominion over all flesh, and constituted judge of the world, by whom God will pass sentence upon all mankind. In these respects, as well as others, he has the pre-eminence. "See Col. i. 15–19.
It may be here inquired, if Jesus were a man, with a human soul and body, how could he know all things? And how could he work so many miracles? The answer is to this purpose : “ God was with him.” And the Father, in him, did the works. The disciples, as is allowed, during the whole time of our Lord's abode with them here on earth, conceived of him no otherwise, than as a man, or the great prophet that was to come into the world, the Christ, who had the words of cternal life, or made the fullest revelation of the divine mind. They believed him to be a man, and yet they were persuaded, that “ he knew what was in man.” Yca, our Lord himself, after he had given sufficient proofs that he was the promised Messiah, expected, and judged it reasonable that every pious and understanding Jew should believe him able to perform miraculous works, upon persons at a distance, without his going to them. See John iv. 46–50. And some had that faith: though, undoubtedly, they esteemed him to be only a prophet, or a man highly favoured of God,
And though there are none of the prophets, not Moses himself, upon whom the Spirit of God did abide, as upon Jesus the Messiah ; yet there are divers things in the Old Testament, that might assist pious and attentive Jews, in our Lord's time, in forming just conceptions concerning the knowledge as well as the power of the Messiah.
The prophet Elisha could tell the king of Israel exactly the designs and counsels of the king of Syria. See 2 Kings vi. 8—12, and 2 Kings v. 25, 26. When Elisha asked Gehazi, “ Whence comest thou ? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. Elisha said unto him, Went not my spirit with thee, when the man turned again with his chariot to meet thee?" He had seen and heard all that transaction, as if he had been present.
It was indeed a wonderful knowledge that was given that prophet. But it may be perceived, , that by divine communication he might have known much more.
In like manner, in the perfectly innocent and capacious mind of the blessed Jesus, who had “ the Spirit without measure,” it is easy to suppose that there was, and must have been an extensive and intimate knowledge of things distant and secret.
And some of Elisha's miracles were wrought at a distance. He did not see Naaman, whose leprosy was cured at his word, or by bis direction. 2 Kings v. 9–12. Nor was he present with the widow when her oil was multiplied. 2 Kings iv. 4—7.
To proceed. By “the Spirit,” or “ Holy Ghost,” the persons in this way of thinking do not understand a distinct intelligent agent, or being of great power and capacity. But with them the Spirit of God is God himself, or the power of God, or a gift, or divine influence and manifestation.
Ps. xxxiii. 6. “ By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth, or the spirit of his mouth. The word of the Lord and the breath of his mouth are one and the same. ` All things came into being and were disposed of by his will, at his word and command.
In like manner, Job xxvii. 13. “By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens. His hand has formed the crooked serpent:" or the winding constellation in the heavens, which we call the milky way. The spirit or the hand of God formed all those things.
Luke xi. 20. “ If I by the finger of God cast out dæmons, no doubt the kingdom of God is coine unto you.” In Matt. xii. 28. “But if I cast out dæmons by the spirit of God, then is the kingdom of God come unto you. So the finger of God, or the spirit of God, is the power of God, or God himself.” As St. Peter says, Acts ii. 22. “ Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved ainong you by miracles which God did by him, in the midst of you.”.
So in other places likewise the spirit of God is the same as God: as the spirit of a man is the man himself. 1 Cor. ii. 11. “What man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of man,
which is in him ? Even so the things of God knoweth no'man, but the spirit of God.” Gal. vi. 18, « The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,” that is, with you : as at the conclusion of several other epistles, particularly 1 Cor. xvi. 23. “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
In the Acts of the apostles the spirit often denotes a gift, or power. Acts ii. 38. “ Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Tyv Swpecev 78 4718 tvevỊCTOS. Acts viii. 20. Simon of Samaria “ thought that the gift of God might be purchased with money." TUN dwpeay Ty bę8. Acts x. 45. “on the gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” η δωρεά τε αγι8 πνευματος.
Timothy is directed 1 Tim. iv. 14, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy.” My ep Eden T8 Ev co zaprouatos 2 Tim. i. 6. “Stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” αναζωπυρειν το χαρισμα τ8 θεε.
When God said to Moses, Numb. xi. 16, 17. “ That he should go and gather unto him seventy men of the elders of Israel, and,” says he, “I will take of the spirit that is in thee, and will put it upon them.” No one understands thereby, that God intended to take from Moses a portion of a spiritual being resting upon him : but that he would bestow upon those elders quali. fications of wisdom and understanding, resembling those in Moses, by which he was so eminent and distinguished. So Deut. xxiv. 9. “ Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom. For Moses had laid his hands upon him."
Zach. xii. 10. “ And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication : not pour out upon them a great and transcendent being or spirit: but give them the temper, the qualification, the disposition of supplication.
And it is generally supposed, that the ancient Jewish people never had any notion of the distinct personality of the Spirit, " or the Spirit of God,” or “the Spirit of the Lord,” though such phrases occur very frequently in the scriptures of the Old Testament. But they understood these expressions after the manner just shown.
And it is observable, that in the New Testament, though there are many doxologies, or ascriptions of glory to God, and to Christ, there is not one to the Spirit. Nor is there at the beginning of the epistles any wish of peace from the Spirit distinctly, but only from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord says Matt. xxviii. 19. “Go ye therefore, and teach” or disciple “ all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” These persons think it not likely, that our Lord should insert in a baptismal form a sublime mysterious doctrine, not clearly taught any where else. The genuine meaning they suppose to be, that` men should be baptized into the profession of the belief, and an obligation of obedience to the doctrine taught by Christ, with authority from God the Father, confirmed by the Holy Ghost: by the Holy Ghost understanding the miracles of our Saviour's own ministry, and of his apostles, and the spiritual gifts bestowed upon the apostles, and other believers, after our Lord's resurrection, and all the wonderful attestations to the truth and divine original of the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ. In a word, men were to be baptized into a profession of the Christian religion, and an obligation to act according to it.
And that this is the meaning of this direction of our Lord, may be inferred from the Acts of the Apostles, where this form, in these very words, never appears. But men are required to “ be baptized in the name of Christ,” or are said to “ have been baptized into Christ :” that is, as before observed, they made a profession of faith in Jesus, or owned their obligation to obey him in being baptized. Acts ii. 38. “ Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ." Ch. viii. 16. “Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." See ch. viii. 35–38. Rom. vi. 3. “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ? Gal. iii. 27. “ For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
• Dr. S. Clarke's paraphrase is this :--baptizing them ' with water, “ in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Gbost:" that is, receiving them to a pro
*fession of the belief, and an obligation to the practice of that • religion, which God the Father has revealed and taught by • the Son, and confirmed and established by the Holy Ghost.
Of those who are in this scheme it is to be observed, finally, that they admit not any real Trinity, or Trinity of Divine Persons, either equal or subordinate. But to them there is one God, even the Father, and one Lord, even Jesus Christ; who had, when on earth, the spirit without measure, and also poured out of the spirit, or spiritual and miraculous gifts in abundance upon his apostles, and other his followers, and is exalted to dominion and power over all things, to the glory of God, and for the good of the church.
This is, in brief, that scheme which is called Unitarian. I should now apply it to the text before us.
But that must be deferred to another opportunity. I shall now mention only an observation or two, partly doctrinal, partly practical.
1. The scheme now represented, seems to be the plainest and most simple scheme of all. And it is generally allowed to have been the belief of the Nazarean Christians, or Jewish believers.
But whatever may be the simplicity of this scheme, even they who have seemed to receive it, in the main, have corrupted it, and suffered themselves to be entangled in philosophical schemes and speculations, about the pre-existence of the soul of Christ and other matters.
Indeed the Christian religion has in it great simplicity, both as to doctrines and positive institutions. But men have not delighted to retain the simplicity of either.
Whatever speculative scheme of doctrine we receive as true, we are to see that we do not too much rely upon our sound faith, or right sentiment, but proceed to, and chiefly charge ourselves with, a suitable practice. James ii
. 19. “ Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well. The dæmons believe and tremble.” James writes especially to Jewish, not Gentile believers. And it is likely that they, as well as other Jews at that time, prided themselves in their orthodoxy, or right of faith, concerning the Deity. The Divine Unity was with them a favourite article. He therefore singles out that, and tells them, that they might hold that right faith, and yet be never the better for it. If they should rely upon that faith without good works, that very faith would prove an aggravation of their misery,
Truth in things of religion is not a matter of indifference. Every virtuous mind must be desirous to know it. But no speculative belief, without practice, is saving, or will give a man real worth and excellence. The knowledge that puffeth up is vain and insignificant. To knowledge there should be added humility, gratitude to God, who has afforded us means and opportunities of knowledge: a modest sense of our remaining ignorance and imperfection : a diffidence and apprehensiveness, that though we see some things with great evidence, and are firmly persuaded of their truth, nevertheless many of our judgments of things may be false and erroneous.
We should likewise be cautious of judging others. Some who have less knowledge, may have more virtue. God alone knows the hearts of men, and all their circumstances; and is therefore the only judge what errors are criminal, and how far men fall short of improving the advantages afforded them, or act up to the light that has been given them.
Let us then inquire with care and impartiality. Let us profess the truth so far as we are acquainted with it, and candidly recommend it to others, with mildness, patience, and long-suffering : and in all things act sincerely according to the light we have: that none of us may fail of that full reward, which God, the best of beings, offers to us, and invites us to contend for, and accept : and, will through Jesus Christ certainly bestow upon all, who diligently improve the privileges, which they have been favoured with in their staté of trial.