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to his promise, Matt. xxviii. 20, or, by his spiritual presence, similar to the gift occasionally conferred upon his Apostles, of knowing things which passed in places where they were not actually present, 1 Cor. v. 3, 4, or, lastly, by that authority which he had delegated, and by the powers which he had communicated to them to perform miracles in his name. See Pearce and Newcomer." I do not venture to say that Jesus is not how spiritually present wherever his disciples assemble together as such his powers, we know, were greatly extended when he entered into his glory, and they may have been thus far extended; but I do not perceive any proof of the fact in the Scriptures.
The second passage, Matt. xxviii. 20, is generally considered as referring to personal presence, And, lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age Tou alwvos' (see page 169). I agree in this opinion; but it appears also evident, that it refers to all the aid which Jesus was empowered to communicate to his disciples, during the apostolical age, for pera, with, denotes aid as well as presence, (see Schleusner,) and would have been equally proper, if Jesus had never been, as we know he sometimes was, personally present with his disciples. The end of the age denotes, as there is little room to doubt, the end of the Jewish dispensation, the annihilation of its civil and ecclesiastical peculiarities, by the final destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem. We have no reason to believe that more than one of those to whom the promise was
* See the Note in the Improved Version.
made (vs. 16) survived that event; and further, we have no adequate reason to believe that any fresh communications were made of miraculous powers, or that Jesus appeared personally to his disciples, after that period.
43.] From the expression ev ax, in the beginning, used by John i. 1, and the application to Jesus of a passage originally addressed to Solomon, (No. 17,) it has been maintained that ETERNITY is ascribed to Jesus in the N. T., and that therefore he is truly God. As every disciple of Jesus has the hope set before him of an incorruptible and unfading inheritance, to prove that Jesus possessed this essential attribute of deity, it must be shown that he was from everlastings. Now in the beginning, from the very terms, can never denote that which has no beginning; but the fact is, the s *px of John (though it is not improbable that it might be derived from the first words of Moses,) signifies the beginning of our Lord's ministry: see p. 62, (8).—Some may infer that Jesus was possessed of the divine attribute of eternity, from his being spoken of as the Life, and the Everlasting Life; but those who consider the mode of expression in John x. 7, 11. xi. 25. xv. 1. can surely feel no difficulty in allowing that it is merely inference without any solid ground of proof. Other passages which may be thought to favour the doctrine of our Lord's eternity have been already considered in No. 33. 37. In Heb. vii. 3, one other expression occurs, which by some has been forced
In Rev. xxi. 5, it is said that the servants of God shall reign for ever and ever.
to give the necessary evidence; but it cannot be requisite to say more respecting it, than that if it prove the eternity of Jesus, it proves also the eternity of Melchisedec.
To all these remote inferences may be opposed the simple and indisputable fact, that CHRIST DIED. Jesus himself says, without making any reserve as to his divine nature, (if indeed one can rationally speak of a nature dying,) I WAS DEAD.
44.] Heb. i. 12, (see No. 24,) and xiii. 8. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,' are adduced to prove the IMMUTABILITY of Christ. The former was not addressed to Jesus, but to God; the latter may prove the unchangeableness of Jesus (if it do not rather refer to his doctrine, see vs. 9); but the point is, does it prove a degree of unchangeableness to which a human being cannot attain ? If it be referred to the outward frame, the Christian will also become unchangeable, (see Phil. iii. 21); if it be referred to mind and disposition, is such unchangeableness, in any way, a necessary proof of deity?
45.] With the passages in view which are cited in p. 109, I cannot understand how any one can imagine that OMNIPOTENCE is ascribed to Jesus. The true reading of Rev. i. 8, (see p. 101,) shows the opinion to be groundless, that the epithet Almighty is there applied by Jesus to himself. Other passages which speak of his great authority and powers, expressly represent them as given to him; and the point is, whether these powers were such as could not be communicated to one who as to nature was man only? Without referring here to
his state of exaltation, it is sufficient to observe, that the miracles which he performed when on earth are no proof whatever that he possessed an inherent power of controlling the usual laws of nature, that he himself ascribes them to God,-and that he expressly says, (John xiv. 12,)He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and GREATER works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.' That Jesus was the medium by which these powers were communicated to the Apostles, is in several places said or intimated; but if they could be communicated to men, that is all which is requisite for my purpose.
46.] The state of high dignity and power to which Jesus has been exalted for his obedience unto death, is regarded by many as a proof of his proper deity; to me it appears to be a direct argument against it. That Jesus possessed, before he came forth from God, dignity and power superior to what the Scriptures state to have been bestowed upon him as a reward for his having fully executed the work assigned him, is a contradiction in terms; inferior honour and authority cannot have been the reward for the voluntary relinquishing of greater : and if his previous dignity and power were greatly inferior to what he possessed after his exaltation, which the plain and obvious meaning of Scripture directly shows, two things necessarily follow,-he did not possess them by any original constitution of his nature, and he was not, before his exaltation, superior to angels, principalities, and powers, (see 1 Pet. iii. 22).-All which directly concerns my argument is to show that, whatever be the precise
meaning of the declarations of the Apostle Paul, &c. respecting the exaltation of Jesus, they afford no proof that Jesus was, as to nature, more than
1.) In several passages Jesus is represented as being seated at the right hand of God; see Mark xvi. 19. Col. iii. 1. &c.; and in Hebr. i. 3, it is said that he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.—On these and similar expressions it may be observed, 1. It is expressly said, Eph. i. 20, that God set him at His own right hand. 2. The word right hand shows that we must understand these expressions figuratively. 3. They are obviously derived from the eastern custom, for a chief minister, or associate in the government, to sit on the right hand of the sovereign. 4. In the Gospel-dispensation, Jesus was exalted to be above all except Him who gave him his authority; and the expressions referred to denote this, that he was head over all things to his church, and they imply no more than this.-A similar expression (referring however to dignity and happiness rather than to power) occurs in Rev. iii. 21.
2.) In Eph. i. 20-23, the Apostle, describing the exaltation of Jesus, says that God set him at His own right hand,' gave him the highest authority and dignity, in heavenly things,' in that kingdom which ruleth in the hearts of men, 'far above all principality and power and might and dominion,’ above all kinds and degrees of power, and every name that is named,' above all dignity which is borne by any, not only in this age, but in that also which is to come.' The next verse shows that