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Page 29. This excellent author, represents this transaction between the Father and the Son before the world was in a way of dialogue: He supposes the Father to say, "My Son, here be a company of poor miserable souls that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice; justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them. What shall be done for these souls?" And thus Christ replies: "O my Father! Such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their surety; I will rather chuse to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it; charge their debt all upon me, I am able to discharge it: And though it impoverish all my riches, and empty all my treasures, (for so it did indeed; 2 Cor. viii. 9. Though he were rich, yet for our sakes he became poor;) I am content to undertake it."
Here I again desire my reader to observe, I cite not the words of that great and excellent man to refute them, for I greatly approve of almost every expression; much less would I expose that venerable author, whose memory and writings I sincerely reverence and honour; but my design is to shew what is the usual language of our best divines on this subject, for I might cite passages of the like nature out of a multitude of excellent writers. This is only a specimen of one for the rest.
Now in reading over such accounts of stipulations and contraet between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world, what proper conceptions can we frame, or what clear ideas can we possibly have, while we suppose nothing but Christ's divine nature transacting this affair with the Father; and while at the same time we believe the divine essence, perfections and powers the understanding, will, thought and consciousness of the Father and of the Son to be numerically one and the same, since in the godhead or divine nature, they are but one and the same infinite Spirit? The mere personalities, viz. paternity and filiation, cannot consult and transact these affairs in a way of contract, proposal and consent: It is nothing but two distinct consciousnesses and two distinct wills can enter into such a covenant; but in the common explication of the Trinity, the distinct personalities of the Father and the Son do not make any real distinct consciousnesses or distinct wills in the one infinite Spirit.
And let it be further noted also, that according to several of the articles of this covenant, one of these beings or persons covenanting, seems to be inferior to the other, and to be capable of receiving orders, commission, support and recompence from the other: But if only the deity of Christ existed at that time, and the deity of Christ and of the Father have but one and the same numerical consciousness and volition, one and the same Dumerical power and glory, what need of orders and commis
sions, what need of promises of support and recompence? How can the pure godhead of Christ be supported, or be recompensed by the Father, who has eternally the same numerical glory and power? In short, all these sacred and pathetic representations of stipulation and articles in the common scheme, can amount to no more in our clear ideas, and in a proper conception of things, than the simple decree or volition of the one eternal, infinite Spirit.
I grant we may suppose the great God in a figurative manner of speech consulting thus with his own wisdom, with the divine powers or principles of agency in his own nature, as a man may be figuratively said to consult with his own understanding, or reason, or conscience: But in literal and proper language,. it seems to be nothing else but an absolute decree of the great God, that the man Christ Jesus, when formed and united to godhead, should undertake and fulfil this work, four thousand years after this world was made. And thus, according to the common hypothesis, that very intelligent being which was to. come into flesh, and to sustain all the real sufferings, gave no such early antecedent consent to this covenant. It was only the godhead of Christ, which is impassible and could really suffer, nothing, did decree that the human nature should exist hereafter, that it should be united to the godhead, and should sustain ago nies and death for the sins of men.
I would enquire farther also, according to this explication of things, what possible difference can we conceive between the love of the Father in sending his Son, and the love of the Son in consenting to be sent on this compassionate errand, if there were not two distinct consciousnesses, and two distinct wills, if it was only one simple numerical volition of the great God? And how doth this abate our grand ideas of the distinct and condescending love of our blessed Saviour, in his consent to this covenant, since that part of him which really suffered, that is, his inferior nature, had then no existence, and therefore could give no consent to this early covenant of redemption. If some of these difficulties may possibly obtain any tolerable solution, by introducing many figures of speech, and be thus explained, according to the common explication of the Trinity, without supposing the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ, yet I am much inclined to think they can never be all solved or explained upon that hypothesis.
But on the other hand, if we give ourselves leave to conceive of the human soul of our Lord Jesus Christ in its pre-existent state as the plorox, the first-born of every creature; Col. i. 15. as the agxn, that is, the beginning or the chief of the creation of God; Rev. iii. 14. lying in the bosom of the Father; John i. 18. and intimately united to the eternal God, then
here are proper subjects for these federal transactions in the covenant of redemption before the foundation of the world. And a most glorious and divine covenant it was between the Father and the Son in this view of things for the salvation of poor ruined
Though this blessed soul of Christ were united immediately to the divine nature, yet God the Father might part with it, as it were, out of his own bosom, that is, divest it of heavenly joys and glories* by its own consent, without dissolving the union: God the Father might prepare a body for it, and send it to dwell in flesh and blood: God might inflict the punishment of our sins upon this blessed soul of Christ incarnate, and afterwards give it a high exaltation, not only to the glory which it had with the Father before the world was, but to superior joys and glories as the reward of its sufferings, according to scripture; John xvii. 5. and Phil. ii. 9.
And this blessed soul of Christ united to godhead, is a proper subject to enter into these articles, to accept of the terms of this covenant of redemption, to consent to part with the bosom of the Father, &c. And thus Christ, when he came forth from the Father, and came into this world; John xvi. 28. laid aside that glory which he had with the Father before the world was; John xvii. 5. and though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; 2 Cor. viii. 9. And thus the Father and the Son manifest their transcendent love to poor rebel sinners in this federal transaction, this covenant of redemption before time began, which is the foundation of all that was ever done in time toward the restitution of the posterity of Adam, to the favour and the image of God, and to everlasting happiness. Every thing coincides admirably well in this scheme, and answers the various expressions of scripture on this subject, without straining the words by needless tropes and figures: It becomes so plain, that he that runs may read it, and every private christian may understand these early grounds and foundations of his hope.
Note, in a few months will be published a large and more complete treatise on this subject, viz. "The pre-existent Soul of our Lord Jesus Christ."*
*Note, This divesting of the soul of Christ of its primitive joys and glories does not require a dissolution of its union to the divine nature; for the godbead may be still united, and yet may influence the human soul in greater or less degrees, and in various manners, as to light, support, joy, glory, &c. according to different occasions and circumstances, which must be exceeding different in a state of humiliation and of exaltation; and the manner and the degree of influence must always be determined only by the divine wisdom.
*This hath been published, and is entitled "the Glory of Christ as Godman displayed.
QUEST. IV. Is the Godhead of Christ and the Godhead of the Father one and the same Godhead?
THERE are several considerations which lead me to agree with this general opinion of almost all our divines in the two last centuries, viz. that the godhead of Christ is the same individual godhead with that of the Father; and that his divine nature is not another infinite Spirit distinct from the Father, whatsoever sublime distinctions there may be in that one infinite Spirit, one of which, viz. the Word or wisdom, may perhaps have a more peculiar respect to the second person in the Trinity, viz. the Son; and the other, viz, the power of God; to the Holy Ghost. 1. If the divine nature of Christ be another distinct principle of self-consciousness and volition, another distinct spiritual being, or another spirit, this approaches so near to the doctrine of another God, that it is very hard to distinguish it. For so far as our ideas of arithmetic and reason can reach, this seems to be a plain truth, "If one infinite spirit be one God, two or three infinite spirits must be two or three Gods." And though the patrons of this opinion suppose these three spirits to be so nearly united as to be called one God merely to avoid the charge of polytheism, yet it must be granted, that this one God must then be one complex infinite being, or spirit, made up of three single infinite beings or spirits; which is such a notion of the one true God, as I think neither reason nor revelation will admit. And yet if this were the true notion of the one God, it is very strange that scripture should not clearly and expressly reveal it.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel, the Almighty, and Jehovah, is the proper style and title by which God the Father was known under the Old Testament and it is under these titles and characters that he often appeared to the pa triarchs yet it is agreed by all Trinitarians that it was Jesus Christ appeared to the Patriarchs, and assumed this style and these titles of godhead; which we justly suppose he could not have assumed if he had not had true godhead belonging to his complex person. And not only so, but this true godhead must also be the godhead of the Father, otherwise he could not have assumed those very titles by which God the Father was always known to the church, and by which they worshipped him as the God and Father of all. If the deity of Christ were another distinct essence or spirit, his assuming those names whereby God the Father only was known to the Israelites, would lead them into mistake and confusion.
Objection, I know it may be objected here, that Christ's assuming the names and titles of God the Father would lead them into as much confusion and mistake, by leading them to believe that Christ was God the Father, and it may be urged yet further, that these titles thus assumed, would prove that Christ
was God, no more than that it does prove that Christ was the Father.
Answer. If Christ has the same godhead as the Father, and if in these ancient appearances Christ came in the name of the Father, as his representative, there is no great inconvenience nor confusion if he were taken for God the Father, speaking and acting in and by the angel of the covenant, or Jesus Christ in his pre-existent state: But there would be great confusion and inconvenience in Christ's assuming these divine names, if he had not godhead belonging to him, for then we should take a creature for God.
3. Several scriptures of the Old Testament, which are cited by the writers of the New Testament and applied to Christ, do 'most evidently refer to the great one God, the God of Israel, the Almighty, the Jehovah in the Old Testament, whom all that read the Old Testament before the days of Christ must suppose to mean God the Father of all; such as Ps. lxviii. 18. Thou hast ascended on high; cited Eph. iv. 8. And Ps. xcvii. 7. Worship him all ye gods; cited Heb. i. 6. and Ps. cii. 24, 25. O my God, of old thou hast laid the foundations of the earth; cited Heb. i. 10. And Isa. xl. 3, 4, 5. Prepare ye the way of the Lord; cited Mat. iii. 3. And Joel ii. 32. Whosever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered; cited Heb. xii. 26. And Isa. viii. 13, 14. Sanctify the Lord of hosts, and he shall be for a stone of stumbling; cited 1 Pet. ii. 6. 8. and several other places.
Now we cannot suppose, that all the holy men before Christ were utterly mistaken in their application of these texts to God the Father, since there is a plain and proper sense wherein this application is true. And yet these texts are properly applied to Christ, if we suppose the godhead of the Father and of Christ to be the same, and that the man Christ Jesus was the shekinah or habitation of the great God intimately and personally united to him, and so made one person with him, but still under the character of filiation or mediation. And in this sense Christ was Emmanuel, or God with us; Mat. i. 23.
Besides, let it be further considered, that the design of the apostles in the citation of these texts, and the application of them to Christ, was to prove the glory, dignity and divine grandeur of the complex person of Christ: But this citation of these texts, and the application of them to Christ, will scarce prove the godhead of Christ, unless he has the same godhead with that of the Father; nor indeed will they prove the dignity or glory of the person of Christ any other way; but as they shew that what was spoken of old concerning the godhead of the Father must necessarily belong also to Christ. If Christ considered as God were another distinct spirit from the godhead of the Father, I think