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xx. 10. to the
«BUT surely it must be deemed some argument against this Divinity of Jesus, that, From Matth, on several occasions we find him disclaiming all pretensions to it; owning himself to end, Mark xi. be no more than (a) the Son of Man;' acknowledging (b) an inferiority between him 15. to the end, and the only true God; and, in some of the most momentous passages of his life, dis- to the end, and covering himself to be no more than man, a man of the like passions and infirmities John xii. 19. to with us, but, in many cases, far short of that bravery and fortitude of mind which has been conspicuous in some heathen sages.
Luke xix. 45.
The hypostatical union, so much talked of (had there been any reality in it), must have certainly given Jesus a fore-knowledge of all events, though never so contingent, never so uncertain; and yet we find him declaring, that (c) of that day and hour (viz. either of the destruction of Jerusalem, or his advent to the general judgment) knoweth no man, neither the angels which are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.'
It is a known attribute of God, that as he is a self-existent and independent Being, the power which he has, he had from all eternity, inherent in himself, and derived from none other; but the case must have been quite otherwise with Jesus, as appears by his coming to his apostles, and with great joy telling them, that (d) all power was given to him in heaven and earth: For when was it given? Not till after his resurrection; not until (e) he had been obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, for which God highly exalted him;' and therefore this is no obscure intimation, that he had no share of this Divine power committed to him before.
The most obvious notion we have of a Deity residing in human nature, is, that the person vouchsafed that dignation should be (if not exempt from all kind of miseries) enabled at least to bear them without anxiety: But what became of the power of this hypostatical union, when we find our Lord (f) filled with fear and anguish,' and, in the utmost consternation of mind, telling his three apostles, whom he desired to watch with him, that (g) his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: When we find him in the garden, (h) 'praying with such strong cries and tears,' and in such an agony both of soul and body, that (i) his sweat was like great drops of blood falling down to the ground: And, above all, when we find him reduced to such extremity, that (k) an angel was detached from heaven to support and strengthen him;' which certainly there would have been no occasion for (1) had the fulness of the Godhead (of much superior efficacy, one would think, than any created angel) dwelt in him bodily.'
(a) Matth. xvi. 13. (e) Phil. ii. 8, 9. (i) Luke xxii. 44. (n) John xix. 39, 40.
Where was this hypostatical union, we may ask, when our Lord, as he was hanging on the cross, sadly complained, (m) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' And much more may we ask, where it was when he lay buried in the grave, a pale, senseless corpse, (n) wrapped in linen cloths, and embalmed with spices? It is the union of the soul, we know, that prevents the death of the body, and much more must our Lord's death have been prevented by (o) such a conjunction of the Divine nature,
A. M. 4037, unless we can suppose that nature at any time torpid and unactive, which, in a Divine
&c. or 5442.
Ann. Dom. principle, is hardly within the compass of supposition.
Vulg. Er. 33, &c. or 31.
However, since our Saviour was to suffer, and for this purpose came into the world, that he might (a) taste death for every man,' how is it that he happened to be more troubled at the apprehension of it (b) than was Socrates, and many other philosophers of old, who had learned not to be much afflicted with calamities, and suffered torments with an undaunted courage? He certainly knew what God had decreed, and himself had consented to, before his incarnation; and therefore, when he came to the point, for what reason was it that he altered his purpose, and desired of his Father a removal of the bitter cup?
If the ingredients of it were so very bitter, we cannot see what occasion there was for his drinking it at all, or why he should doubt of the possibility of its passing from him. For might not God forgive the sins of mankind without any such penal exactions? Or, if a sacrifice was to be offered, might not the death of a common man (admitted as a public representative) have done as well? When the love of God would have risen, in proportion to the lowness of the satisfaction he accepted, why should he be at the expence of parting with his only Son, and of redeeming us with the bloodroyal of heaven?
But, after all, it is much to be questioned, whether we are really redeemed or no. For, even allowing that our proxy, Christ Jesus, was the Son of God, (c) yet were not his sufferings equivalent to the sins of mankind, forasmuch as the death which he underwent was only temporal, whereas the punishment which our sins deserved, and we, in our own persons, should have suffered for them, was death eternal.
If the satisfaction, however, hereby given to the Divine justice, was sufficient and complete, we ought not to make such an heavy outcry against Judas, for being an instrument in this transaction, especially since what he did he was in a manner compelled to do. (d) We read of this fact of his in a prophecy as high as the (e) Psalmist, who not only points out the thing, but likewise the person that was to do it; from whence it must follow, that this fact must have likewise been preordained, and made necessary to come to pass by the fate of a decree; and, if he was necessitated by the force of an irresistible decree, wherein was he to be blamed for doing it, since where there is a fatality in acting, there can be no choice, and where there is no choice, there can be no guilt?
But even supposing that Judas was guilty of an heinous offence in betraying his master, yet we cannot but think, that St Peter was every whit as culpable (ƒ) in denying him, in denying him three times, with the sad formality of repeated oaths and imprecations; and yet it would make one wonder, why the one's repentance was accepted merely (g) for weeping a little at the remembrance of his offence, when the other's deep sorrow and remorse for his crime, his returning the wages of iniquity openly, his public declaration of our Saviour's innocence, owning his baseness, and taking the whole shame of his fault upon himself, met with no grace, but ended in his everlasting per
Well was it for the penitent thief that he had better fate, (h) whose repentance, though begun upon the cross, and even after he had joined in reviling our Saviour, was immediately rewarded with a glorious reception into paradise. And this may teach us, that (whatever some may talk of the invalidity of a late death-bed repentance) God is disposed to receive the greatest sinners into the arms of his mercy, even though they be at their last gasp.
(a) Heb. ii. 9.
to Matth. xxvi.
(b) Whitby's Annotations on Matth. xxvi. 38.
(e) Psalm xli. (h) Luke xxiii. 39, &c.
(c) Whitby's Appendix (f) Matth.
xx 10 to the
But though we are obliged to St Luke for this comfortable account of the penitent From Matth. thief, yet we cannot but acknowlede, that St Matthew (a) has committed an egregious end, Mark xi. blunder, when, in relation to the thirty pieces of silver that were given for our Saviour's 15 to the end, blood, instead of Zechariah (b) in whom alone the prophecy is to be found, he cites Jeremiah, who has not one word concerning the whole matter.
But a misquotation in the evangelists may be easily excused, were they not chargeable with a misrepresentation of facts; as they certainly are, (c) when they talk of a total eclipse of the sun, at the time of our Lord's crucifixion, for three whole hours together, when it is confessed, that the sun and moon were in no conjunction then, and (even if they had been so a darkness of so long continuance in any eclipse whatever is known to be contrary to the laws of nature: As they certainly are, when they resolve the infidelity of God's people, not into the perverseness of their own wills, but (d) either into the Divine predictions, or a judicial blindness and obduration brought upon them: (e) When they introduce our Lord with no more than a whip in his hand, (ƒ) 'driving all the buyers and sellers out of the temple;' (g) cursing the poor fig-tree for having nothing but leaves upon it, when, according to their own acknowledgment, (h) ⚫ the time of figs was not yet;' and, what is more still, cursing the (i) scribes and Pharisees, and giving them such hard names, when he could not but know that this was a gross violation (k) of his great precept of loving one another;' though how he comes to call this (1) a new commandment,' we cannot well conceive, since it is manifestly as old as Moses, in whose laws it is expressly required, (m) Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. I am the Lord.'
Whatever our Saviour might mean by (n) the abomination of desolation (spoken of by Daniel the prophet) standing in the holy place' (which has occasioned no small perplexity to interpreters), it is certain, that in the commission which he gives his apostles, he has furnished the antipædobaptists with an argument that will not easily be wrested from them, when he bids them (o) 'go, and teach all nations, before they baptize them ;' and that the Romanists have too much to say for themselves, in behalf of the real presence, when, after the consecration of the elements, (p) he calls the bread his body, and the wine his blood. But the great point of all is our Saviour's resurrection; and happy had it been for the Christian cause, if the proofs of it had been made a little more public and convincing. For, whatever may be said in apology for St Thomas's incredulity (which, if it was causeless, was certainly very culpable), it cannot be doubted, but that, had our Lord appeared personally to the high priests and rulers after he was risen; made an open and triumphant entry into Jerusalem; and frequented the temple, and other places of public concourse, that every eye might see him, and receive full conviction for the time that he abode upon earth;-it cannot be doubted, I say, but that, in this method, he would have given the world fuller satisfaction than in remitting us to the testimony of his apostles, who were all his own creatures, and, consequently, evidences against whom we may make a just exception.
The materiality of our Lord's resurrection-body, and the reality of his ascension into heaven, are two points more, that, in this part of the Sacred History, we think, we have reason to call in question. For since (q) one known property of a body is, that it cannot penetrate through matter, without either cutting it or being cut; if Jesus, at his resurrection, assumed the same body that died on the cross, and was laid in the sepulchre, how come we to read, that (r) on the first day of the week, when the doors were
to the end, and John xii 19. to the end
&c. or 5442. Ann.
A. M. 4037, shut, he came in to his disciples (more than once), and stood in the midst of them?' If Dom his body, at this time, was real flesh and blood, it could never have penetrated through Vulg. Er. 33. a more solid substance than itself; and therefore, we have reason to presume, that it was no more than a light aerial vehicle, that could pass through any crack or key-hole, and appear or disappear as it pleased.
&c. or 31.
And, in like manner, when we read in the same evangelist (a) Touch me not (as our Saviour says to Mary Magdalene); for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God;' upon the supposition that his body was material, we must from these words infer, that he ascended instantly after his resurrection; and as the joys of heaven, and the bosom of his Father' could not well fail to detain him, we must from hence conclude, that his seeming ascent from the Mount Olivet, afterwards was performed by some airy form or other which he appointed to personate him upon this occasion."
ST PAUL, in his epistle to the Philippians, argues, from the majesty of Christ's Divine nature, to the greatness of his condescension in becoming the Son of Man, (b) "who being in the form of God (as he expresses it), thought it no robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in the fashion of a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death." In this state of humiliation, it was highly proper and suitable to his character, to speak modestly of himself, and to make use of the lowest title that he had, as best becoming his present condition.
[But, though he generally called himself THE SON OF MAN, it is worthy of remark, that such was not the appellation given to him by his disciples. St Stephen indeed, some time after his ascension into heaven, gave him this title, when he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing in glory on the right-hand of God;" and hence it has, with great probability, been supposed, that the chief reason which induced our Lord to call himself so frequently THE SON OF MAN], was its being the prophetic name by which Daniel had described the promised Messiah. (c) "I saw in the night visions (says he), and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: [That this was a vision of the Messiah is acknowledged by the Jews themselves. At least R. Saadiah, as quoted by Dr Lightfoot (d), says, on these words of Daniel-Like unto the Son of Man-This is the Messiah our righteousness (Similis Filio hominis,-Hic est Messias Justitia nostra) But it is evident, that neither the prophet Daniel, nor the martyr Stephen, was speaking of the Messiah in the days of his humiliation, when they called him THE SON OF MAN; nor does our Lord himself always mean to express merely his own humility when he calls himself by this appellation." As the Father hath life in himself," said he on one occasion (e)," so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man." Why, because he is the Son of Man, if the Son of Man was not a prophetic denomination acknowledged by the Jews to belong to the Messiah, who, according to them, was to raise the dead (f). It was in allusion therefore to his office, and not merely to assert either his human nature or his great condescension in becoming man, that our Lord so frequently called himself by this denomination. He claim ed to be the Son of Man x27x-that seed of the woman promised from the beginning, and of whom the promise was so often repeated by the prophets. Of the origin
(a) John xx. ver. 17.
(b) Philip. ii. 6, &c.
(e) John v. 27.
(c) Dan. vii. 13, 14.
end, Mark xi.
to the end, and
of the Messiah, as well as of the nature of his office, the Jews of that age entertained From Matth. the most erroneous notions. We find them indeed declaring (a), that when Christ xx. 10. to the should come, no man would know whence he was; and their ambitious hopes of uni- 15. to the end, versal dominion are universally known. These errors our Lord endeavoured to cor- Luke xix. 45. rect by claiming to be the Messiah under the denomination of the Son of Man; for he John xii. 19. to thus recalled their thoughts to the occasion on which the Messiah was first promised; the end. and taught them, on the authority of Moses himself, that the victories to be achieved by him were not over the Romans, but over that serpent, whose head the promised seed of the woman was to bruise by his own sufferings. It was in allusion to this, therefore, and to assert his claim to the office of the Messiah, that our Saviour so of ten called himself by a name, under which the prophet Daniel had described the Messiah.]
However this be, it is certain, that he is not so fond of the name of the Son of Man, as not to desire to be considered in the capacity of the Son of God likewise: For, when he put the question to his disciples, (b)" Whom say ye that I am?" And Peter, in the name of the rest, replied, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God," he is far from being displeased with the answer, when be returns the apostle this compliment," Blessed art thou, Simon Bar jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father that is in heaven."
Our Saviour indeed was so far from making any unnecessary declarations of himself, that (c), on some occasions, we find him labouring to conceal his Divine character, and charging his disciples to say nothing of it until his resurrection *; but, notwithstanding this, whenever he was fairly called upon, and especially by persons invested with authority, he never concealed it. When (d) "the Jews came round him in Solomon's porch, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly;" his answer is express: "I told you, and you believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me; for I and my Father are one." When he stood before the judgment-seat, and the high priest demanded of him, (e)" I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us, Whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God?" His reply is, "Thou hast said," or (as St Mark (f) expresses it) "I am; and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right-hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Nay, there are some instances, wherein, of his own accord, and without any demand of this kind, he freely discovers who he was: For, having cured the man that was born blind, and afterwards meeting him accidentally, (g) "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" says he; whereupon the man asking, "Who is the Son of God, that I may believe on him?" our Saviour replies, "Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that talketh with thee."
Though therefore our Blessed Saviour delighted much in the appellation of the Son of Man, yet as he did not upon that accouut decline the title of the Son of God, and had consequently two natures united in the same person, our business must be to dis
(a) St John v. 27.
(b) Matth. xvi. 15, &c.
(c) Vid. Mark viii. 30. and Matth. xvii. 9.
[The reason of his concealing his character on these, and similar occasions, is very obvious. Had the people been told in plain terms by himself in the beginning of his ministry, that he was the Messiah, though they could not have by force made him such a king as they wanted, they would undoubtedly have risen in rebellion, on his account, against the Roman government, from which they were ripe for a reHe would thus have been apparently involved in guilt; and have suffered, however innocent, as the
chief of an insurrection, like some false Christs who
(f) Chap. xiv. 62.
(g) John ix. 35.