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two particulars. First, in asserting Christ to have been more than any human being. And, secondly, in asserting that he took upon
him human nature for a higher purpose than merely revealing to mankind the will of God, and instructing them in their duty and in the doctrines of religion. In discoursing on these subjects, I have thought the words I have just read to you better adapted to my views than the words on which I grounded my former discourses. We have seen and do testify (says St. John) that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.—These words imply the following very important truths.
First ; that Jesus Christ was the Mefsenger of God the Father Almighty; and that, therefore, we are to ascribe to him ultimately all that Christ did and all that we owe to him. The Father, my text says, sent the Son.
Secondly, that this Messenger was one of peculiar excellence and dignity. By way of distinction, and in order to mark
his peculiar eminence, he is called the Son. So likewise in the first verse of the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said that God who at sundry times and in divers manners Spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last times Spoken to us by his Son, by whom he made the worlds.
Thirdly; these words imply that Christ was sent into the world to perform for it a service of the last importance. He was sent to SAVE it. The Father fent the Son to be the SAVIOUR of the world. These words, therefore, lead me to answer the following enquiries.
ist. Whether the peculiar dignity of Christ, as pointed out to us in the Scriptures, means any more than what Athanafans and Socinians say; that is, his being a man the same with ourselves, but in union with the Deity and endowed with extraordinary powers ?
2dly. What the nature was of that in. strumentality in the work of our redemption, which is expressed when it is said
that God sent him to be the Saviour of the world.
And 3dly. Whether he is a Saviour in any other
way than by his inftructions and example.
First, Let us enquire what reasons there are for believing that Christ's peculiar dignity, as described in the Scriptures, implies that he was more than any being merely human.
As one who wishes to be a candid enquirer after truth, I must here tell you, that I think the mere appellation (Son of God) applied to Christ decides nothing on this subject. The manner in which he is so styled in my text and in other places af Scripture implies, as I have just observed, his pre-eminence as a Prophet and Messenger from God; but the appellation, taken by itself and abstracted from the circumstances of its application, affords no proof of his being more than a man. It is in- deed a phrase which has been deplorably
miúnterpreted; and on which a doctrine concerning God the most unintelligible has been grounded. By Trinitarians and Calvinists, it has been supposed to refer to an eternal derivation of one part
of the Divine nature from another, or of the second person in the Trinity from the first ; and their language is, that Christ was neither made nor created, but begotten from everlasting, and of one substance with the Father. And, even by many more rational divines, this phrase has been thought to refer to some peculiar manner in which Chrift derived his existence from the Deity before all worlds, and by which he is distinguished from and raised above all the other productions of the Divine will and power. For this reason they think Christ is called the Only Begotten of the Father, there existing no other being derived from him in the same way; that is, by generation, and not by creation. There is scarcely any thing that strikes me inore, with a conviction of the infirmity of the human understanding, than the zeal with which this most groundless and absurd notion has been received by some of the ablest and best men. That it is wholly groundless will appear from the following considerations.
First; with respect to the epithet onlybegotten applied to Christ as the Son of God, it is plain that it means no more than his being his beloved Son, as he is likewise often called in the Scriptures.Thus is this epithet used in Prov. iv. 3. For I was my father's fon tender and only (that is, peculiarly) beloved in the fight
And it is remarkable, that the Greek translators of the Old Testament frequently render the words which, in the original, fignify only son, by beloved fon. It deserves
notice here, that Christ is styled God's first-begotten as well as his only-begotten Son ; and that he is so styled plainly for no other reason, than that he was the first that rose from the dead.
of my mother