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so apparently here denies, and by that denies himself to be the most high God.
Thirdly; I will only add one perfection more, viz. absolute Omniscience, or unlimited knowledge of all things, past, present, and to come, Ps. cxlvii. 5. “ His understanding is infinite." So Isa. xli. 23. Acts xv. 18. 6 Known to God are all his works from the beginning."
Now, it is plain our Lord Jesus Christ had not this infinite knowledge, particularly not of future things, such as the day of judgment. Mark xiii. 32, he says, “Of that day knows no man, no, not the Angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Here the Son professes his knowledge to be limited, and inferior to the Father's, that is, the Son of the Father, or Son of God; the Son as above angels in knowledge, the Son in the most eminent sense.* Now how is it possible the Son can be God infinite, and yet have but a finite understanding? Or can he be equal in knowledge to the Father, and yet not know as much as the Father? And be sure if he was not an infinite God, when on earth, he cannot be such afterwards. Thus we have seen Christ himself, with his own mouth disclaiming infinite original power, goodness, and knowledge to belong to him, but he attributes them to his Father only as another, distinct from himself, from whom he derived of each in a dependent limited manner.
* Irenæus, I. ii. c. 28,
The Weakness and Absurdity of the Common Eva
sion from the Distinction of two Natures. What can be said against these plain arguments ? I imagine our opposers have but one shift left for the evading them, and that is a distinction, which serves them in all cases; for they say, Jesus Christ speaks these things of himself, as man only, while he had another nature as God, which he reserved, and excepted out of the case. So that when he says, I cannot do thus myself, or I am not to be called the chief good, or do not know this, &c. according to them, the meaning is, I have not these perfections in my human nature ; but yet I know and can do all unassisted, and am the chief good in my divine nature, which also is more properly myself. The vanity of which subterfuge I intend now to lay open, by shewing how absurdly this distinction of the two natures is pretended, to take off the force of such expressions from Christ's own mouth, which in their natural and undisguised appearance do proclaim his inferiority to God, even the Father. And I shall dwell the more upon this, because it is the most popular and common evasion, and comes in at every turn, when all other relief fails.
It would be no unreasonable demand to ask, what intimation of any such distinction of two natures they can point us to, in any of these discourses of Christ ? Why should men devise or imagine for him such a strange, and seemingly deceitful way of speaking from upon
no ground, nor necessity, other than that of upholding their own precarious opinion ? But I have several remarks to make this common answer.
1. That which in the first place I have to object against it is, that our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, if himself was the supreme God in any nature of his own, could not have said such things, as I conceive, in any consistency with truth and sincerity, (which he always maintained strictly,) he could not say himself could not do, or did not know the thing, which all this while himself could do, and did know very well, as be sure if he was the supreme God, he could and did ; for this were to make him say what is most false, and to equivocate in the most deceitful manner; for though we should suppose he consisted of two infinitely distant natures, and so had two capacities of knowledge,
since himself ineludes them both, it follows, that the denying a thing of himnself in absolute terms, without any limitation in the words or other obvious circumstances, does plainly imply a denial of its belonging to any part of his person, or any nature in it. For though we may affirm a thing of a person, which belongs only to a part of him; as I may properly say a man is wounded or hurt, though it be only in one member, suppose an arm; yet I cannot justly deny a thing of him which belongs only to one part, because it belongs not to another; as I cannot say a man is not wounded, because though one arm be shot or wounded, yet the other is whole.
For instance, I have two organs of sight, two eyes. Now suppose I converse with a man with one eye shut and the other open; if being asked whether I saw him, I should dare to say I saw him not, without any limitation, meaning to myself, that I saw him not with the eye which was shut, though still I saw him well enough with the eye which was open ; I fear I should bear the reproach of a liar and deceiver, notwithstanding such a mental reservation as some would attribute to the Holy Jesus. For knowledge is the eye of the person ; Jesus Christ is supposed to have two of these knowing capacities; the one weak, the other strong and piercing, that discerns all things. Mat. xxiv. 3. Now as such an one, the disciples repair to him and ask him, when the end of the world and time of his coming shall be ? He answers them, by giving them some general account of the matter, but says that the particular day and hour he knew not, nor did any know but the Father, meaning, say my opposers, that he knew it not with his human knowledge, though he knew it well enough with his divine, at the same time that he said, the Son knows it not, absolutely and indefinitely.
And yet if Jesus Christ had a divine knowledge and nature, no doubt his disciples, who, if any body, must be supposed to believe it, directed the question to that, rather than to the imperfect human capacity ; and yet in answer to it he says, he knew not the day, which would not be counted sincerity or truth in men, much less was Jesus Christ in danger of it; in his mouth no guile was; let us not impute it to him.
That you may see this is fair reasoning, hear how some of the other side own it, when out of the heat of this controversy. See Dr Stillingfleet's sermon on Mat. x. 16, speaking of the equivocations of Popish priests, whose common answer, when examined about what they have known by confession, is, that they know it not, which they think to vindicate from the charge of lying by saying, that “in confession, the priest knows matters as God, not as man, and therefore he denies to know them, meaning it as man.” But, says the Doctor, this is absurd; because to say he does not know, is as much as to say he doth not any way know. Now if this be a good answer against the Papists, as no doubt it is; then sure it is so in the present case. Therefore, when Christ says he knows not the day of judgment, it is as much as to say he does not any way know it, and consequently, it is a vain shift to say, it was as man only. We must beware lest we bring the holy Jesus under such a reproach for equivocation, as the Romish priests lie under; and make the Jesuits themselves think they have a good title to that name, by imitating herein his example, which in this very instance they allege with so great advantage, according to this interpretation.
2. As a farther evidence, that Jesus Christ intended no such distinction of two natures, as is pretended; it is to be observed, that he puts not the distinction,