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John i. 1, 14. "The Word, who was with God, and who was God, was made flesh, and dwelt among us.".
IX. May there not be such a close and intimate union or oneness between God and a creature, as that the actions and characters of either of them may be attributed to the whole compound being? And may not this lay a foundation for such divine expressions concerning Christ, viz. That he is Jehovah, the great God over all, God blessed for ever; Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and let all the angels of God worship him, which are characters belonging to the true God; And yet concerning this same person Jesus Christ, is it not said also, he eat, drank, slept, walked, groaned and died, which are characters belonging to man?
X. May not this intimate union or oneness between God and a creature, give occasion for the actions and properties of the man to be attributed to God? And may we not this way ac count for such expressions as these, Acts xx. 28. "God hath purchased the church with his own blood." 1 John iii. 16. "God laid down his life for us. God manifest in the flesh, was received up into glory; 1 Tim. iii. 16 ?
Note, This figure of speech, whereby the peculiar attributes of one nature are ascribed to another, is called a communication of properties: And it is usual in all languages, and in all nations, when two distinct beings are united into one common principle of action. So we say of a wise woman, she is a prudent body; so of a drunkard, that he is a thirsty soul. We often call a witty or skilful man, an ingenious headpiece, and we give the name of a sleepy soul to a sluggard; because soul and body being united compose a man, therefore some property of body is oftentimes attributed to the soul, and some property of soul attributed to the body.
XI. Is not this a more natural, more easy, and more scriptural method of accounting for the attribution of divine names and properties to our Lord Jesus Christ, than for us to take the peculiar and distinguishing names, titles, characters and properties of godhead which are applied to Christ, and sink them to a diminutive and inferior sense, and thus apply them to the man Christ Jesus? Would not every reader, even a Turk or an Indian*, readily believe these names and characters to be incommunicably divine, and appropriate only to the great God, if they did not read them applied also to Jesus Christ? And would they
I will allow the author of the "Sober Appeal to a Turk or an Indian," to have given as fair a gloss to his construction of those scriptures in another sense, as any writer has done: But in several places it is evident with how much difficulty and hardship those texts are strained to any other meaning than what the Trinitarian writers have generally given them. Where the gloss of that author is fairest, and most likely to prevail on readers, it shall be considered in some future papers, if the present essays are well received by the world.
not rather chuse to account for this application of them by the personal union of the man Jesus Christ to the divine nature, than by denying these characters to be appropriate to God? Is it not more rational and more scriptural to suppose the man Christ, by his union, to God, capable of these names and characters in their sublime and exalted sense, than to run counter to so many places of scripture, which at least seem to appropriate these names and characters to God.
XII. Does it not tend to take away the distinction betwixt God and his creatures, which ought always to be sacred and inviolable, if we make such names and characters as Jehovah, the great, the mighty, the blessed God, the Creator, the preserver of all things, and the object of worship, to be attributed and applied to any thing that is not God? Or if we sink them into a low and diminutive sense, in order to make such an application of them? Is a mere distant resemblance of God in some of his properties, or a being appointed under God a deputy governor of the world, a sufficient reason to have all these glorious and incommunicable divine titles, characters, and worship attributed to a mere creature?
XIII. Would not such an attribution of divine names, titles and characters, to a mere creature, have a plain and strong tendency to introduce a polytheism and idolatry, too near a-kin to that which is often condemned among the heathens, viz. The owning and worshipping heroes, departed souls, inferior and superior gods? Would it not have an apparent aspect of God's giving his name, and his glory to another, contrary to Isa. xlii. 8. And has it not a manifest and dangerous appearance of breaking the first commandment, which says, Thou shalt have no other gods before me? Is not Christ Jesus in the Arian scheme represented as another and an inferior god? Another and an inferior object of worship?. Nor do I see how it is possible, upon that hypothesis, to answer what the learned Dr. Waterland has urged so often, and so successfully against his opponents, viz. That the Arian writers, by their hypothesis, introduce more Gods than one.
XIV. As the holy scripture leads us into this method of solving the proposed difficulty, of both divine and human pro perties ascribed to Christ, so does not reason itself dictate and confirm the same? Since we find two distinct and seeming inconsistent properties ascribed to the person of Christ, viz. divine and human, is it not far better to suppose the single subjects of these properties united into one compound subject, viz. God and man? And then each single subject may keep its own properties. Is not this easier than to join two inconsistent properties in the same single subject, which scripture doth neither necessitate, nor encourage, and philosophy and reason will not allow ?
XV. Since the modern refiners of the Arian scheme have granted, that there is a peculiar, strict and perfect union and communion, between the Father and the Son, and cannot deny, but that several of the texts I have cited may have a secret reference to some mysterious, incomprehensible instances of union and communion between them, see Dr. Clarke's Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, part the first, number 594 and 600. Where is the inconvenience, or difficulty, of allowing this to be called a personal union, whereby what is proper to God may be attributed to Christ, and what is proper to the man Christ may be attributed to God, and what is proper to either part of the compound person may be applied to the whole? Thus God manifest in the flesh was seen of angels, and ascended to heaven, may signify the same, as that Jesus Christ, or the man united to godhead, was seen of angels, and ascended to heaven; 1 Tim, iii. 16.
SECT. II. Suppose a person, who had before indulged the Arian error, and denied the proper divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, should by these steps of enquiry be led on thus far, th believe that Christ is called God, Jehovah, the great God, and the blessed God, in the true, proper, and exalted sense, be might yet be led farther onward into this doctrine, and quickly learn how to explain in clear ideas, several other propositions which are asserted and maintained in the orthodox scheme, that is, in the common explication of the Trinity: viz. how the Son of God may be also God of one substance, power, and eternity, or of the same substance with the Father, and in some sense equal with him in power and glory. And it may be explained also by this means, how Christ becomes the Son of God by an ineffable communication of the divine nature to him from the Father, and thus he may be the image of the invisible God, and the express image of bis Father's person; thus also all the divine characters which are ascribed to Christ in the New Testament, may be properly said to be derived from the Father. Observe the following method:
1. If the essence of God which is in the Father, and in the Son Jesus Christ, be the same numerical essence*, then it is evident that the Son hath the same substance with the Father.
* It is generally granted by the greatest and best Trinitarian writers, that supposing we believe the Father, Son and Spirit, to be really, truly and properly, one God, the particular manner of explaining the internal distinctions in the divine essence is of much less importance. Upon this concession I take leave to say, that though the doctrine of the same numerical essence belonging to the ancred three, has been opposed by soine learned and pious writers, yet this is the opinion which is certainly most consonant to the light of nature, which has been for many centuries past counted the orthodox doctrine, and which seems most agreeable to the daity of God, where that is represented in scripture, and therefore I rather incline to believe it: And I think the personal representations of the Father, the Soo, and the Holy Spirit, may be explained in a full consistency therewith, at I shall vaḍeavour to shew hereafter.
2. If the perfections that belong to that divine essence are equal or the same in the Father and in the Son, then there is a sense wherein the Father and Son may be said to be equal in power and glory; though the Father may be properly said to have them originally, and the Son by communication.
3. The divine nature, or Deity, may be said to be commupicated to Jesus Christ the Son, by the Father's uniting the human nature of Christ to his own godhead, or to some divine power or principle of agency represented personally or by God's actually assuming the man Christ Jesus, his Son, into a personal union with himself, or his own infinite wisdom, which act of uniting the godhead to the man Christ Jesus may be called a communication of the divine nature to the Son*.
4. And perhaps, this is one way whereby Christ becomes the Son of God; nor is it utterly improper to apply the text here; Ps. ii. 7. I will declare the decree, the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Christ becomes the Son of God, and may said to be begotten of the Father by a divine decree or appointment. And thus as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; John v. 26. That is, he hath given the favour of union with the divine nature to the man Christ Jesus; and to have life in himself is one property of the divine naturet, which now exists in the complex person.
5. Thus Jesus Christ, the Son of God, becomes the most perfect image of the invisible God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person. The powers and perfections with which the man Jesus is invested, by the indwell
Here let it be noted also, that the divine nature of Christ is sometimes taken inadequately for the eternal word or wisdom of God, sometimes, adequately for God, exerting or acting by his eternal word or wisdom, or godhead under the special idea of wisdom. Now it is chiefly in this latter sense that I speak of the godhead of Christ in these three dissertations.
Though it has been an opinion generally received, that the Sonship of Christ belongs to his divine nature, supposing it to be really derived from the Father by eternal generation, yet the scripture does no where assert this doctrine, but it is drawn only by supposed consequences: And there are many zealous Trinitarians, and learned writers in our day, who suppose no derivation of one person from another in pure godhead, lest it infer some inferiority in the person derived; and therefore they explain Christ's Sonship rather to signify the peculiar derivation of his soul and body from God the Father, or his being con. stituted the Messiah by the decree and appointment of God; and Doctor Thomas Goodwin also supposes, "that the union of the man Jesus to the divine nature is one reason why he is called the Son of God. It was by the personal union that God bestowed on the man Jesus the glory of being his Son," Volume II. Book 3. Page 146.
It This is not so bold a thought as Doctor Goodwin has on this text, when he says, "It is one attribute of Christ as he is God-man, yea, as he is man taken up into that union, to have life independently in himself, even as God the Father bath." Volume II. Book 3. Page 193.
ing and united godhead, would render him a most illustrious image of the Father, if there were no superior sense in which also he were the express image of God; for there is no being through which the godhead shines in all its perfections with such brightness, such express likeness, and such glory as in the perSon of Jesus Christ; 2 Cor. iv. 6.
6. Yet farther, if we can receive the doctrine of the preexistence of Christ's human soul, which seems to be the most obvious and natural sense of many scriptures, if we can believe that it was formed the first of creatures before the foundation of the world, and was present with God in the beginning of all things, which is no hard matter for an Arian to grant, then we may also justly believe this union between God and man to have begun before the world was, in some unknown moment of God's own eternity: For when the human soul of Christ was first brought into existence, it might be united in that moment to the divine nature.
Thus Christ was, in this sense also, the first-born of every creature. For his complex person had a being before the creation was formed; and perhaps, this may be the best way of expounding the doctrine of the most primitive fathers concerning the ante-mundane generation of Christ, that is, his becoming the Son of God in a new manner just before the world was made. See the fourth Dissertation on the Logos.
According to this view of things, it is easy to understand how he had some hand in the creation as God-man*; that is, as Jesus Christ, by whom God created all things; Eph. iii. 9. How all things were created by him, and for him, and by him all things consist; Col. i. 16. And be upholds all things by the word of his power; Heb. i. 3. For he was God-man from the beginning of his existence as man. Thus divine perfections always belonged to him; his godhead was co-essential and coeternal with the godhead of the Father, for it was the same divine essence; and his person as God-man existed before the foundation of the world."
These glorious attributions, by this means, appear to have a just foundation in the divine and human natures of Christ united, even without entering into any of the particular and internal distinctions and personalities which belong to the divine essence itself, and which are more abstruse and incomprehensible; and therefore they are not the first and most necessary things to be taught or learned in the doctrine of the Deity of Christ.
Lastly, The human soul of Christ being thus anciently united to the divine nature, did about seventeen hundred years
* Doctor Thomas Goodwin does at large maintain and prove, that Christ, as God-man, created all things, and under this character he was the instrument by which God created the world. "See his Discourse of the Knowledge of God and Christ." Book 3. Chapter 10, 11, 12. Page 178, 190.