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Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of Jesus,) was the CREATOR of the heaven, earth, and sea, and all things in them: is it conceivable that the Apostles should have been informed by express revelation that Jesus was the Creator, and yet notice the stupendous fact (which to a Jew must appear almost an absurdity,) in only one passage, and that too not expressed in the words usually employed in reference to the original material creation, nor necessarily referring to it?
SECT. III. Those passages which ascribe to Jesus titles, perfections and powers which are thought to be inconsistent with his proper humanity.
26.] John xx. 31. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son or GOD.' This epithet is given to our Lord about 50 times; and that of Son, implying the same thing, about 40 times.-It can scarcely I think be denied, that our Lord's frequent employment of the appellation the Son, or Son of God, when speaking of himself; and the employment of it by others in reference to him, have a sufficient cause in the divine words at his baptism; and if that mode of expression had not been thus employed by Him who sent him, there would have been sufficient foundation, in the customary Hebrew phraseology, for the use of the appellation. Now there appears to me no reasonable ground for doubt, that those important words Thou art my beloved Son,' are to be interpreted by that customary phraseology; and no one who has given accurate attention to the subject can,
doubt, that, in the Jewish idiom, Son of God means no more than a person favoured by God and peculiarly eminent as to character or privileges or office. Out of the many passages which prove that the title has no respect to nature, I think it cannot be necessary to bring forwards more than the following. In Hos. i. 10, the Supreme Being is represented as saying of the Israelites, It shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them "Ye are not my people," there it shall be said unto them "Ye are the SONS of the Living God." In ch. xi. 1, we have another similar expression, When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt.' In 2 Sam. vii. 14, we find Nathan directed to say respecting Solomon, in the name of God, I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever: I will be his Father, and he shall be MY SON.' The same honourable appellation is in various places in the N. T. given to Christians, sometimes, as it appears, with respect to their privileges, but, in general, principally with respect to their character. One striking passage (Rom. viii. 14,) will suffice as an instance, and will serve to show the amount of this Jewish idiom; For as many as are led by the spirit of God,' i. e. as the connexion shows, by a godly disposition, these are the SONS OF GOD.'
I think it evident from these and similar passages, that there is nothing in the exalted appellation, Son of God, in any way implying that there was a peculiarity of nature in Jesus. Christians are said. expressly to be heirs of God and joint heirs with
Christ,' who, again, is said to be the first-born among many brethren :' and if any, neglecting a widely prevalent Jewish idiom, and interpreting the expression by their own religious system, maintain that the expression does refer to nature, it is incumbent upon them to show the scriptural grounds of this position. I think they will find
27.] John i. 18. The ONLY BEgotten Son.' See page 76, note (i).
28.] Rom. viii. 32. His owN SON.'-At the
e vs. 29.
d Rom. viii. 17.
f Luke i. 35, is the only passage which is supposed to represent the miraculous conception of Jesus as the reason of his having this dignified title so peculiarly given to him. I have already referred to my present opinion, that the Gospel of Luke does not teach the miraculous conception of Jesus, (see p. 25. note (8); and if it do not, the above supposition is totally unfounded. But even admitting that it were otherwise, the appellation would not in any way refer to superiority in nature, because the foundation of it would have no such reference, (see p. 21. note (y).-Schleusner (whom no one can suspect of being an Unitarian), after having pointed out several peculiarities in the scriptural use of the word son, says, "In the N. T. every one is called son of God, who is like God, beloved by him, and favoured by him with peculiar blessings, who truly and piously serves God, and obeys his will." He then states what he regards as the peculiar grounds of the application of the term to Christians, and to our Lord. In the last case he refers it in part (but without evidence) to peculiarity of nature; and he assigns as the reasons for the employment of the term in reference to Christ, the use of it in the O. T. in reference to the Messiah, and the phraseology of the O. T. which designated "kings, magistrates, and in short all who were considered as holding the place of God among men, by the title Sons of God." It was obviously in this last sense that Nathaniel employed the term, (see John i. 49. comp. vs. 45); but I consider the words of our Lord (John x. 36) as assigning the ground and justification of his own employment of it.
baptism of Jesus he was called by God His beloved son. There is no scriptural ground to refer the appellation to peculiarity of nature; it obviously relates to peculiar favour and approbation.
29.] Rom. viii. 29. The FIRST-BORN TρOTOTOxo among many brethren.'-The passage shows that there is nothing peculiar in the sonship of Jesus: all who are conformed to his likeness are his brethren. He is the First-born, inasmuch as he is pre-eminently excellent, the head of the new family formed by his dispensation out of all nations, the first who partook of its blessings, and the agent in dispensing them to his brethren. He is called the First-born in the following passages; Col.i. 15: (see No. 22.) also in vs. 18: the Firstborn from the dead,' as being the first who was raised from the dead to die no more: Hebr. i. 6, probably for the same reason; and Rev. i. 5, certainly so. The expression shows the amount of only or only-begotten Son: if he were the firstborn son, he could not, in any strict sense, be the only son.
30.] John v. 27. And hath given him authority to execute judgement also, because he is the SON OF MAN; or rather, a SON OF MAN,' (see p. 109, note (). Dr. Middleton considers this single appellation, (the manner in which it is employed being taken into account,) as an irrefragable proof of the Pre-existence and Divinity of Christ.—I suppose that most will agree with me in regarding this fact, as a singular and striking proof of the effect of preformed opinions, in warping the judgement of men of great learning and abilities. When
persons can derive proofs of their own opinions from expressions which, in their plain and obvious meaning, are inconsistent with them, there is no common ground for argument. I was once told, that the doctrine of "satisfaction by the atoning blood of Jesus," is to be found in five-sixths of the New Testament. I proposed opening the Testament in any part whatsoever, and counting the verses which have any apparent reference to it:' my opponent replied, that if it be not expressed it is implied. "The learned Postellus," says Gregory Blunt, p. 103, "inferred, that there were 11,000 proofs of the Trinity in the Old Testament alone:" upon the above calculation there are upwards of 6000 verses in the N. T. which contain the doctrine of satisfaction; and upon Dr. Middleton's principles, the expression Son of Man, which occurs about 80 times, affords so many proofs of the preexistence and divinity of Christ.-I think that the appellation, (which is frequently given to Ezekiel when receiving supernatural instruction,) contains a reference to our Lord's prophetic character, and was employed by our Lord to lead the attention of the people to his claims as the Messiah
It is not improbable that the prophecy contained in Daniel vii. 13, 14, may have been one motive for our Lord's frequent employment of this appellation when speaking of himself. In this do refer to the Messiah, the ground of the appellation is obvious; it was calculated, without an express avowal of his claims as the Messiah, to lead the minds of the people to the admission of them; and it is observable, that the language used by our Lord in Matt. xxvi. 64, bears a great resem to that of Daniel.-Since the publication of the first edition of this volume, I have had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Simpson's very ingenious hypothesis as to the import of this appel