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God in the highest sense, I proceed to show in the next place,
Thirdly, That our blessed Lord Jesus disclaims those infinite perfections which belong only to the supreme God of Gods. And it is most certain, that if he want one, or any of these perfections, that are essential to the Deity, he is not God in the chief sense; and if we find him disclaiming the one, he cannot challenge the other ; for to deny himself to have all divine perfections, or to deny himself to be the infinite God, is the same thing.
SECTION I. Our Lord Jesus disclaims those infinite Perfections
which belong only to the Supreme God. 1. Underived Power. 2. Absolute Goodness. 3. Unlimited Knowledge. First, One great and peculiar perfection of the Deity is absolute, underived omnipotence ; he, who cannot work all miracles, and do whatever he list of himself, without help from another, can never be the supreme Being, or God; because he appears to be a defective being, comparatively, since he needs help, and can receive additional strength from another than himself.
Now it is most evident, that our Lord Jesus, whatever power he had, confesses again and again, that he had not infinite power of himself. “Of myself I can do nothing." John v. 30. He had been speaking of great miracles, viz. raising the dead, and executing all judgment; but all along takes care men should know that his sufficiency for these things was of God the Father. In the beginning of the discourse, he says, “The Son can do nothing but what he sees the Father do;" John v. 19. So in the middle, “The Father has given to the Son to have life in himself” ; ver. 26, 27. And as if he could never too much inculcate this great truth, he adds towards the conclusion, “I can do nothing of myself," an' fuavtoỗ; or, from nothing that is my self do I draw this power and authority. Sure, this is not the voice of God, but of a man! For the Most High can receive from none; he cannot be made more mighty, or wise, because to absolute perfection can be no addition. Rom. xi. 35. And since power in God is an essential perfection; it follows, that if it be derived, then so is the essence or being itself; which is blasphemy against the Most High, for it is to ungod him ; to number him among dependent derivative beings; whilst the supreme God indeed is only he, who is the first cause, and absolute original of all.
Nay, further, our Lord considers himself here in opposition to his Father; who, he says, gave him all power. Now if he had such an eternal divine Word,
united more nearly to him than the Father, surely he would have owned his power to be from that Word or divine Son.
How comes he to ascribe nothing to that, since it is supposed to be equal in power to the Father himself, and more nearly allied to Jesus Christ, as the operating principle in him? “My Father in me does the works;" John xiv. 10, by which it is evident there was no divine agent in and with him, but the Father; he only has all power of himself, and needs no assist
Secondly; another infinite perfection, that must needs be in the Deity, is supreme absolute goodness. All nations have consented to this, by the light of nature; that T' üyobov, and optimus maximus, are the prime characters of the Supreme ; as the orator says, he is one, quo nec melius, nec majus concipi potest ; the fullest, and highest of all that are called good; for indeed all other good is derived from him.
Now the Lord Jesus expressly disclaims this character. “ Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God;” Matt. xix. 17, where it is most evident that he distinguishes himself from God, as not the same with him, and denies of himself what he affirms of God;* and as to that divine perfection of supreme infinite goodness, he challenges the man for presuming to say what seemed to attribute
* Iren. l. i. c. 20. Orig. Com. in locum.
it to him, and leads him off to another, who and who only was more eminently so.
It is astonishing to see what violence is offered to the sacred text, by such as maintain the equality of Jesus Christ to God his Father. What a strange fetch is it, to suppose our Lord's meaning to be this? “ I know, man, thou dost not take me for God, as I am; why then dost thou give me the title belonging to him only ?” when there is not one word in the context looking this way; for Christ never challenges the poor man with this, that he thought too meanly of him, as they suppose, but quite contrary, that he thought or spake too highly of him. And verily if the man's error lay in this, that he thought too meanly of Christ, whilst his words otherwise were justly enough applied to him ; I cannot think our Lord would have rebuked him in that manner; for instead of keeping him still to the right object, and rectifying his apprehensions about it, which only were wrong, he seems clearly to carry him off to another from himself, as not the right object, without rectifying his thoughts of Christ at all. And to what end could Christ reprove him in such a way, as never tells him what was his fault, but rather tempts him to run into another, and leads him out of
the way ?
It should seem rather, if any such notion had been then conceived by any, that the man did think him to be God; for if he thought him to be the supreme good, that was to make him God in his eye; and if he did
not intend so much, but only meant it of an inferior good, how could Christ rebuke him for it, since that was no fault or error ? And truly they, who say Christ's receiving worship when on earth proves his deity, can hardly give an account why the man should give, or Christ receive worship from him, as he did, Mark x. 17, if he did not take him for God. However, whatsoever the man thought, he says what Jesus Christ thought was only proper to be said of God, and too much to be said of himself, as the obvious sense of his words declares.
And let me add, that if our Lord Jesus had on purpose left the matter disguised, not willing to discover who he was then ; yet it is strange that the Evangelists, who many years after relate the matter, when it was necessary to have it believed that Christ was supreme God, as it is pretended; that they, I say, should not unriddle the matter, by inserting some cautious clause, as that this he said to prove him, or because he knew he denied his Godhead, or the like ; for sometimes on less occasions they enter such cautions, John vi. 6. xxi. 23. And yet though three of the Evangelists relate this discourse, they all do it the same way, and not one of them says a tittle to direct us to this secret way of interpretation, but leaves us to the hazard of a most fatal mistake, even recommended to us by his history, if Jesus Christ were indeed the supreme Good in as high a sense as God his Father, which he