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of that honour which every son owes to his father, though of the same nature, and consequently of equal dignity as to nature; or of the economy of offices, one superior to another, already mentioned; or of the Son's humanity. Whether of the two do most justice to the sense of Scripture, may possibly appear in this and some following Discourses.
If Christ, in one place, John xiv. 28, says, 'My Father is greater than 1,' he must be understood of his relation to the Father as his Son, born of a woman; because he says in the same verse, ' I go unto my Father, I go away, and come again unto you,' speaking of his bodily ascension, and of his bodily return at the end of the world. Accordingly, after his resurrection, being now about to ascend into heaven in the fulness of his human nature, he saith, 'I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God;' John xx. 17. Now, this migration from and to his church on earth can be understood only of his human nature, wherein he was ready to ascend or depart; for, in respect to his superior nature, he was never to depart from that church, which was then united to him as his spiritual body, and to which he said, speaking of futurity in the present tense, 'Lo, I am with you alway unto the end of the world ;' Matt. xxviii. 20. When, therefore, Christ saith, “My Father is greater than I,' he speaks of himself, no doubt, as a man. As such, he calls the Father his God in the passage now cited ; and when he hung on the cross, where it is as certain the human nature of Christ spoke, as that it suffered. As he applies the twenty-second Psalm to himself by these words, taken from thence, and repeated at the approach of death, we see the royal prophet must have furnished that exclamation for him in the character of a man; and therefore ought to be understood as speaking to him in the same character, when he saith, Psal. xlv. 7, quoted by St. Paul, Heb. i. 9, God, thy God, hath anointed thee. But this did not hinder either the psalmist or the apostle, from addressing him in the verse immediately preceding, under an infinitely higher character; for they say to him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.' And here it is worth observing, that the word God, applied to Christ in the sixth verse, and to the Father immediately after in the seventh, is the very same, namely, Elohim. And did the psalmist, who
spoke of the Father and the Son in the same passage, and by the same name of God, intend, without in the least hinting it to us, that the Father and the Son were two distinct gods, the one infinitely less than, and inferior to, the other? From these observations it appears, I think, sufficiently plain, that, when Christ saith, My Father is greater than I, and prays to him by the title of his God, he cannot possibly be understood as speaking in reference to his prior or superior nature, but only of that which he had in common with the rest of men. If the Father is, in respect to Christ's higher nature, greater than him, how came Christ to say, John xiv. 9, `He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father;' and, ver. 10, .I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" How came he to say, 'I and my Father are one Being ?' chap. x. 30. Or how came the Holy Spirit, speaking by St. Paul, to say, Phil. ii. 6, . Christ thought it not robbery
• to be equal with God.'
The opposers of Christ's divinity, I know, explain both these passages
in a different sense. As to the first, they say, 'Christ is one with the Father, as his disciples are one with him,' John xvii. 22; that is, they are joined together by love and charity. The Jews, to whom our Saviour spoke the words, John x. 31, did not so understand them; for they charged him with having thereby made himself God; and he, by his reasonings and assertions afterward, only confirms them in the same opinion of his meaning. This is manifest from their attempting to seize his person, which put an end to the interview between him and them. But, granting that Christ is no otherwise one with the Father than his disciples are with him, it will not relieve the Arians from the conclusion I have drawn, because Christ and his disciples were of one and the same nature, and formed one body; and all we contend for is, that he was as truly of one nature with the Father, as they were with him. And as to the passage in the epistle to the Philippians, where it is said, that Christ, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,' the construction put on it by our adversaries is so forced, and so disingenuous, that it scarcely deserves a. serious notice. They will have the original word for form to signify only image, or similitude; whereas every one skilled in the Greek knows it implies rather an internal, inherent
form, or the essence of any thing. Thought it not robbery' is a most close and faithful translation; yet they would translate the words, was not in haste to take to himself, and boast;' whereof it is difficult to determine whether the folly or the impudence is greatest. “Equal to God' is also the most exact translation our language will bear, and perfectly expresses the sense. But they will have the words mean only like God;' that is, they will have the word of God speak a meaning quite foreign to the common, known acceptation of the terms, purely that it may accommodate itself to their prepossessions. But the use of the word morphe, form,' in this passage, may serve to decide the merits in respect to the construction of the whole; for the same word is used when Christ is said to be in the form of God, and when he is said to be in the form of a servant, and therefore must be taken precisely in the same sense on both occasions. Now, we know he was really a servant, and not merely in the likeness of a servant; and so he is expressly called, Matt. xii. 18, and Isa. xlii. 1. It follows, therefore, that he was as truly God before, as he was a servant after, he took on him the nature of man, that is, of a servant; for all men are, by nature, truly and properly the servants of God.
Although in many places the Father is said to have sent the Son,' and, in my text, to have committed all judgment to the Son;' which expressions, we own, imply authority on the one side, and subjection on the other; yet no inequality of nature, previous to the incarnation of Christ, can be concluded from thence, without doing violence to the many other passages wherein the Godhead of the Son, and his equality with the Father, are peremptorily inculcated. Such expressions as these intimated, from whence the Arians would infer the inferiority of the Son, relate not, by any means, to his nature, but his office, as is made evident by the marks of paternal authority wherewith they are stamped.
The most remarkable of these are such as style the Son an angel. Well may Christ be so called, since he is the Angel, or Messenger, of the covenant, Mal. iii. 4. But what are we to understand by the word angel? Is it the designation of a particular nature, or only of an office? No doubt, of an office only; for the original word malach, neither by its etymology, being derived from an Hebrew word which signi
fies 'function, nor in its use or application, being given promiscuously to Christ, superior creatures, men, and devils, imports any thing of the nature of him to whom it is applied in Scripture, excepting Heb. ii. 16, where the word 'nature' is joined with it in our translation ; and in two or three other places, no way relative to Christ, or the present controversy..
, As the several orders of creatures above us are all of them 'ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation,' and to execute the other good purposes of God throughout the world, they are styled angels, which is not a name, but a title; and so are the apostles, so are the bishops of the seven Asiatic churches, and that with equal propriety. When this title is applied to Christ, it only intimates, that he is the messenger of his Father, but gives us not the smallest hint concerning his nature. It is true, he is called an angel: and is he not also called Adam and David ? Not, surely, because he was that first man from whom all others descend; or that other, who was the immediate son of Jesse; but because he was, by office, the father of the regenerate, and the royal shepherd of God's people. That he hath nothing of the same nature with those beings who are, by way of eminence, commonly called angels, is manifest from Heb. ii. 16, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.' The translation here departs from the original word, in order more clearly to give the sense in English. The close literal translation is placed on the margin of our Bible, and is, 'He took not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham he took hold.' He took hold of the nature, or species of being, which he intended to save, which was not that of angels; but he who would know what nature or species he did take hold of, when he took the seed of Abraham, may in the fourteenth verse of this chapter plainly see it, where it is said, 'Forasmuch as the children,' which God had given him, that is Christ, ‘are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself,' that is, Christ,
likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death; wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren.' Here the seed of Abraham,' and 'flesh and blood,' are opposed to the nature of angels, which Christ certainly did not assume, lay hold of, or take.
Is it not then most evident, that he had, first, a distinct nature of his own, and that he afterward took on him another, but not of angels; by which is meant, in this passage, all those superior creatures whom we call by that appellation? And what was that first nature which he had before he had assumed the second ? It could not be the nature either of angels or men, because it is here clearly distinguished from both. Neither could it have been any nature inferior to that of man; because, if it had, it could not have been said with truth, that he was in the form of God' before his incarnation; nor that he emptied and humbled himself' in order thereunto, Phil. ii. 6–8. It follows, therefore, that his first nature was no other than the Divine; and that he was so far from being an angel by nature, and bearing only the name and style of God, that he was really God by nature, and bore only the style of an angel; for he neither had originally, nor took on him, the nature of angels.
Our adversaries may here perhaps object, that the word angels, in this passage, is to be understood of the lowest order of spirits superior to us, as if they were peculiarly so called; but that, notwithstanding, Christ may have been one of those principalities, powers, thrones, &c. who are represented to us as higher than angels; and, having first this superior nature, it was proper enough to say, he took not on him the nature of those inferior spirits, called angels; but, being by his first nature much higher than them, he became a little lower by the assumption of the second.
But these objectors would do well to consider, that the word angel, or angels, in Scripture language, infinitely oftener comprehends all the orders of created spirits superior to us (they being, by office, all equally the angels or messengers of God), than it signifies, in a restrained sense, the lowest order of such spirits; that, in this text to the Hebrews, it probably comprehends them all, because it is brought in contrast to the nature of man; and Christ, in the same passage, is called God, and all the angels of God are ordered to worship him; and, above all, that although we do take it here in the restrained sense, it will give the Arians no advantage, because, to serve their purpose, they must understand it, not of an office, but a nature, as they do in those passages where he is called an angel ; whereas it is here expressly de