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Might we not then reasonably expect to find, that he is expressly and plainly called God, at least as frequently as he is expressly and plainly called Man, if he were truly and properly God, as well as truly and properly Man? and that those facts which respect his divine nature, should be brought into view as frequently and explicitly as those facts which respect his human nature only? Now few probably will deny, that compared with the general tenor of the N. T. (which respects his humanity only,) there is but a very small part, which, even in appearance, refers to the supposed ceity of our Saviour. Yet if he were truly and properly God, it must surely be of high importance that the fact should be distinctly revealed. And I cannot myself perceive the possibility of its having been distinctly revealed, and yet that such little notice of it should be taken by the Apostles and Evangelists. At any rate, even supposing that the evidence adduced for the proper deity of Christ, were adequate to prove the point, yet if we confine ourselves to scriptural views I regard it as indisputable, that the divine authority of Jesus, (the fact that he was sent by God and acted under his authority,) is infinitely the most important circumstance in the Christian system. I know not how the believer in the pro per deity of Christ reconciles himself to these and the many other scriptural difficulties with which his system is loaded: to me it appears that if that system be true, the simplicity which is in Christ is totally lost, and a veil of mystery thrown over the plainest assertions and the plainest facts. I shall only add,
IX. The example of Jesus, (which is of the most interesting and engaging kind, peculiarly calculated to affect the heart of his disciple, and to excite to the imitation of him,) consists of HUMAN excellencies; and its essential and CHARACTERISTIC value depends upon his having been truly and properly MAN.
We are exhorted to cultivate holiness in heart and life, because GOD is holy: to exercise unlimited benevolence, because His benevolence is unlimited": to be merciful because he is merciful :but are we ever exhorted to learn of GOD because HE is meek and humble in heart; to follow in HIS steps, because He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; to imitate His self-denying benevolence, because, though rich, for our sakes HE was poor? Though I am willing to admit, that the condescension and the benevolence of the Son of God, may operate as a strong motive to humility and benevolence, even when he is at the time thought of as God, though I am convinced that thousands and ten thousands of those who have departed from what I believe to be Gospel-truth as to his nature, have been most fully influenced by his example, (the natural consequences of their system having completely given way to the plain teachings of the Scriptures,)—yet I regard it as a self-evident truth,
Matt. v. 48. Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father that is in heaven is perfect.-The connexion requires the sense here given. The word obviously does not refer to perfection in the abstract, but completeness, universality, in benevolence,
that to enable any one to set an example of HUMAN virtues, he must be a HUMAN being; and farther, that to make that example complete, as an object of our imitation, and, particularly, as an influencing cause of such imitation, he must be, as to nature, in the same circumstances with ourselves, liable to suffering, liable to sin.
That our Lord was liable to sin I consider as necessarily following from the representations of the N. T. Unless he were so, he could not have been tempted; for if, by any necessity of his nature, or by the superiority of his nature, he could not sin, no inducement to sin could be felt; in other words, temptation would be but a name. Now upon the supposition of his being properly God, surely no one will venture to assert that he could sin, or even that he could feel any inducement to sin and if he could not, the language of scripture is involved in mystery, and as it appears to me in contradiction. We learn that he was in the desert for forty days TEMPTED by Satan;' that *
when the devil had ended all the TEMPTATION, he departed from him for a season: from his language to his disciples, &c.' in Gethsemane, we perceive that he then again experienced temptation; and by the Writer to the Hebrews we are informedm, that he was in ALL points TEMPTED like as we are yet without sin.'
That profound submissive resignation to the will
of God, which constitutes the commanding excellence of our Lord's character, (and which according to the Writer to the Hebrews, ch. v. 8. he learnt by suffering,) seems to me a mere name, if he were by nature above the reach of sufferings, or of temptations to escape the painful duties assigned him. His ardent piety, his constant devotedness to the purposes of his Father, must, indeed, taken even in the abstract, ever animate and delight the heart in which there is one spark of devotional feeling; but if he were truly and properly God, what becomes of the influence of his example in this important point of view. The moment the thought presented itself, that we were contemplating the piety of GOD, the resignation of GoD, the decotion of GOD, it must surely annihilate such influence, or at least involve the mind in more than Egyptian darkness. Devotion, resignation, and obedience, as exhibited in the holy character of Jesus, are human excellencies; as manifested by him they imply that he was as to nature in all points like his brethren; and if we suppose that he was not so, we may contemplate those excellencies as a model by which to mould our affections, we may be actuated by them as a motive, (since it is necessary for us to regulate our hearts by the spirit of Jesus): but that almost undefinable influence which arises from the perhaps indistinct consciousness, that the example which we copy was an example of feelings, of affections, like our own in their purest forms, that the distresses of Jesus were such as we also should have felt in such
circumstances, and his resignation too such as in our best moments has spread tranquillity over our own souls,—this can have place only where the supposed divinity of our Lord's nature is unthought of, and the heart surrenders itself up to the contemplation of the MAN of Nazareth, as his character is so inimitably pourtrayed in the simple narratives of the Evangelists.
I should dwell on this topic with great pleasure, if my plan were less limited; as it is, I must content myself with remarking, that similar observations might be made respecting the other peculiarly human virtues of our Saviour. We regard him as an admirable pattern of self-denial, of humility, of patience, of meckness, of fortitude, of prudence, &c. but to me it appears, that the influence of these virtues must be totally overcome by a present conviction that he was truly and properly God.
In one point of view, it may be thought, that the advocates for a superior nature in our Lord have decidedly the advantage over us: He left,' they may say, a most glorious and happy state, and partook of human feelings and sufferings. Herein indeed was love.' When we examine somewhat more accurately, we shall find that the advantage is still decidedly in our favour. I suppose that no advocate for the proper deity of our Saviour will venture to maintain, that the divine nature partook of these sufferings; and if not, the being who had before existed in glory and happiness, underwent no suffering, and the man Christ Jesus must surely have received support and a diminution of