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principle, that by the union of these integrant and essential essences, and the manifestation of their distinguishing qualities, operations and effects, we are enabled to the degree permitted of His infinite goodness, to conceive of the Wisdom, Power and Holiness of that Being who has declared that He alone is God, and beside Him there is none else, a just God and a Saviour; and in this union we understand and believe in Him, as God the Father Almighty.
II. Of the Son of God! or the Power of God, the Elect Property, and Operative, or Manifesting Principle of Deity.
When we think of God, we conceive of an invisible, incomprehensible Being in whom is concentered all the properties and qualities, that are essential to the highest possible, and most holy order of Being; But of this inconceivable majesty we have no definite idea; the mind in vain ranges from idea to idea, until lost in a chaos of imagination; we, however, readily conceive that this holy Being has properties and qualities, of which, we are made acqainted by Revelation, or their manifestation to our sight and understanding. We are made sensible, that in the perfection of his nature, He ever has, and perhaps, ever will be, invisible to man in the flesh; hence, His essential properties are invisible, and to us incomprehensible, beyond what He has been graciously pleased to reveal of Himself to us in the Person of His beloved Son, who is declared to be the manifested Wisdom and Power of the invisible Father.
But, when we think of Christ as the Divine Being in whom all the essential properties and qualities of the invisible Deity were, and are made manifest, Himself, the operative and manifesting property of God as one of the integrant essences of Deity; when we think of Him, as having laid aside the "form of God," the invisible, to take upon himself the form of man. Here then, the eye of the mind can rest on that manifested property, "in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"-and
in Him, we readily conceive of the invisible Deity, as reconciling the world unto Himself; and by this indwelling in the person of Christ, the Lord and Saviour, we understand those passages that declare, that there is no God beside him, a Just God and a Saviour, or in other words, "God in Christ!" and that there is no other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Hence, when we speak of Christ, as the only begotten Son of God, beside thinking of him in his state of humiliation, our minds are led upward to a contemplation of the glory which he expresses himself to have had with the Father, before the world was; and here we conceive of that essential property of Deity, as the operative and manifesting property, in its primary relation, as an integrant essential essence from everlasting, divisible, but inseparable; and as one of those properties which we have shown to be essential to the perfection of Deity. In this sense, as Trinitarians, we conceive of that eternal union of all the essential properties of God; his Power standing in the relation of a Son; and in this sense we understand the Son of God, when he says, "I and my Father are one:" one in their essential relation; in their Divine substance, and invisible essence. And now, contemplating him in his incarnation and humiliation, we conceive of him in his secondary relation to God, as a Being, arising from the concurrence, (if the expression be admissable,) of all the essential properties of the Deity, or according to the counsel of his will; and may we not from hence fairly conclude, upon principles authorised by the Scriptures, that Christ was conceived in the illimitable Wisdom, and was born and made manifest by the illimitable Power of God? And that hence, the Wisdom which conceived, and the concurrence of the Power that manifested, or brought forth, stand in the relation of Father and Son? and hence, he is correctly called the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God, in the Scriptures.
AXIOM IV. Effects have relation to their causes; hence, relations are nothing more than distinctions, or names that are the representatives of things. Spiritual effects
arise from, and prove the pre-existence of spiritual causes, which causes are, in their essential nature, invisible. No spiritual effect can take place, or exist, without a spiritual cause; and spiritual causes are capable of producing visible and material effects: but material causes, simply as such, are not capable of producing spiritual effects.
Remarks. The Scriptures of the Old Testament predicted, and those of the New verified the fulfilment of these predictions; the first, that there should be, the latter, that there actually was, a Christ, who is called the Son of the Most High; that he is acknowledged of God as his only begotten Son; that he was the active Creator, and is, and will be, the Saviour of the world.
The questions which naturally arise, in this stage of our inquiry, are, how is he the Son of God? Was he a Son prior to his incarnation and birth? Had he an existence in a previous form? and in what relation did he exist in and with the Deity, previous to his original manifestation, as the operative, or creative and manifesting principle of the spiritual and invisible Deity or Godhead? These are, certainly, to us at least, very weighty considerations, as it regards our devotional exercises; particularly as we, according to our Faith, know of no God but the one only true God in Christ, existing in one, as "Lord and Christ."* As Christians, we know of no God out of Christ; and it is therefore, from this view of the eternal existence of Christ, as the operative or creative,† and manifesting property or principle in the Godhead, that we recognize God in Christ, as the "only Wise God our Saviour;" that "he is God over all,|| blessed forever."§
With regard to the first inquiry, "How is he the Son of God?" it is proper to conceive of his co-existence in and with the Deity, as one of the essential properties of the Godhead, from everlasting. We are fully persuaded, in our own minds, of the eternal, essential Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and it is a matter of serious import, to understand, as far as Divine authority
*Acts ii. 36. Eph, iii. 9. ‡ Coloss, i. 16. || Jude, 26 § Rom. ix. 5.
permits, the true nature and character of the Son of God, that we might not think less honourably of his Divine nature, as too many have been led to think and believe, and thereby dishonour our Christian profession, by making him to rank upon a level with frail mortals like ourselves. A little serious reflection cannot fail of convincing us, that the name, Son of God, as applied to Christ, is not to be understood in the same sense, "that Isaac is understood to be the Son of Abraham," by ordinary generation. The birth of the Son of God we conceive to have been effected by one of those miraculous displays of the illimitable Wisdom, Power and Holiness of God, for the especial purpose of manifesting himself to the world, in the person of Christ, as both Lord and Christ, God and Saviour; ;* and in whose person the illimitable fulness of the Godhead dwelt, for reconciling the world unto himself, as the Scriptures abundantly testify. We therefore consider the name, Son of God, to be no more than a representative of the relation which the Power of God has to the Wisdom and Holiness of God, considered in their spiritual and primary relation to each other, as the essential properties of the Deity or Godhead: and we further conceive, that if Christ, who is "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God," was, or could be, withdrawn and wholly separated from Deity, according to Axiom II. the Deity would be imperfect. Whereas, according to our views of the Holy Undivided Trinity, the fulness of the Godhead, in the person of Christ, was a manifestation of all the perfections and essential properties of Deity-invisible in their spiritual and essential nature, but dwelling in the sanctified body of the Saviour; He became thus, in his secondary relation to the Godhead, the visible medium of the dispensations of both the Wisdom, Power and Holiness of the Invisible Deity.
It will be hence clearly seen, that according to our system, the Son of God is, in his primary relation and spiritual essence, one of the essential properties of God; that in * Isaiah, xlv. 21.
this nature, he is wholly and entirely uncreate, co-existent, co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal, in and with the remaining integrant and essential essences of Deity; that, in this relation, he is the active, operative, or creative power and manifesting property of God: and, with this view of the subject, we dare not call in question the essentially Divine nature of the Holy One of God, who, in this nature, we have shown, is one with the Father; while in his secondary relation to the Godhead, he becomes truly the Son of God, by the concurrence of his Power with those of the illimitable Wisdom and Holiness of the Supreme. (See Luke i. 35.)*
And as "spiritual causes are capable of producing material effects," we conceive that the illimitable Wisdom willed the existence of a Holy material body, as a sanctified receptacle or temple, a " Holy of Holies," for the indwelling of the entire fulness of the Deity, as the Temple of his Rest: and the illimitable Power of the Highest brought forth in a miraculous manner this Holy Body, who is acknowledged as the Son of God and the Son of Man. And thus, in some degree, we enter into the views of the Prophets, when by the Spirit they were instructed to predict his approaching advent, they announced, among other important truths, that "his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;" "and as names are nothing more than the representatives of relations and things," they were doubtless permitted to behold in advance the fulness, of time, in which the essential, invisible fulness of Deity would, in the person of Christ, be made manifest and visible to man, in the foregoing name and characters, and as the Lord our Righteousness, &c.
Again, referring to his existence in "the form of man,” having voluntarily laid aside "the form of God," he became subject and obedient to the Wisdom and Will of God, And, doubtless, such is intended by the Saviour, when he uses these and similar expressions of dependence
*See, also, the Writings of Athenagorus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, &c.