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A. M. 4037. tinguish between these two natures, and then we shall soon perceive the reason of our
&c. or 5412. Saviour's informing his apostles, that "his Father was greater than him," viz. greater Vulg. Er. 33, with respect to the Son's humanity, though, as touching their Divinity, they are per&c. or 31. fectly equal; or greater, as he is the Father, and consequently the Fountain and Ori ginal of the God head, though their nature and essence be one and the same."
(a) In the very notion of paternity and filiation, there is some kind of subordination implied; but then we are to observe, that this is not a subordination of nature and substance, no nor of essential attributes, or natural properties, but merely a personal subordination, founded on the personal properties: And, to be satisfied in this, we need only consider, that the communication of the essence upon which this subordination is grounded, is only a personal action, and not an act, or attribute of the Divine essence. To generate, and to be generated, are not essential attributes of the Divine nature, but merely personal acts of the Father and Son; and consequently the sole foundation of this subordination being merely in personal properties, the subordination itself, founded therein, can only relate to the personal, and not at all to the essential properties; for, notwithstanding the Son's personal subordination, he still continues with the Father" in substance equal, in majesty coeternal.'
[The difficulties, which have occurred in the contemplation of this most mysterious of all subjects, have arisen, in part at least, from understanding the words Father, Son, substance, begotten, &c. in too literal a sense. The greater part of words, in all languages, in their strictly literal sense, are applicable only to material substances, with their qualities and relations; and when applied to mind and its attributes, they are employed only to express something which we conceive to be analogous to certain wellknown qualities, properties, or relations of bodies. Thus, though the word understanding expresses an attribute of mind, and has long ceased to be employed for any other purpose, yet is it obvious, from the etymology of the word, that it signifies something standing under another—or rather the relation which one of two things so placed bears to the other; but under and over denote the relations of bodies to each other, and cannot be literally applied to minds. Substance is a word of the same kind, signifying literally that which stands under something else. The words Father and Son likewise, in their original and literal sense, imply relations which can subsist only between living beings that have bodies, and cannot be applied literally to pure minds.
This being the case, we must not, when these words are applied to the God-head in a sense merely analogical, reason from them in all respects as when they are literally spoken of men; or infer, that, because a human son cannot be of the same age with his father, the Divine Son cannot have been begotten from all eternity by his Father. The analogy of the one relation to the other is, in some particulars, striking; but it extends not to every particular. I believe, though I wish, on this most sacred of all subjects, to hazard nothing new, that the words Father and Son were employed by the inspired writers, and the phrase eternal generation adopted by the fathers of the primitive church, to denote, as accurately as human language can denote, the absolute equality of the second person of the ever-blessed Trinity to the first in nature and perfections; and at the same time to express the subordination of the second to the first in a manner analogous to the subordination of a human son to his father. A man may beget a son equal to himself in ever perfection, though in the order of nature the son must be subordinate to his father; but, as an artist, no man can make any thing of equal perfections with himself. This phraseology therefore affirms in the plainest terms, that the Son of God is not a creature like angels, and the souls of men; and thus far the
(a) Stephens on the Eternal Generation.
analogy seems complete and perspicuous. But to express the co-eternity of the Son From Matth. with the Father, recourse was had to another analogy.
xx. 10 to the end, Mark xi.
to the end, and
In the Nicene creed, which I believe all churches have adopted, the generation of 15. to the end, the Son of God is compared to the emission of light from the material sun; and he isuke xix 45. said to be "begotten of his Father before all worlds; to be God of God, light of light, John xii. 19. to very God of very God, begotten not made." Now if the Newtonian theory of light be the end. the true one, as it has been generally received from the earliest ages, and is certainly the most intelligible, it is obvious, that the material sun in the heavens never existed, nor could exist as the sun, without emitting rays of light; and that if it had existed from all eternity in its present state, it must have emitted rays of light from all eternity. These rays therefore would have been of the same substance with their source -the sun; co-eternal with it, and yet derived from it in a way that we may conceive to be analogous to eternal generation. As the material sun has always existed as the source of light, so has the first person of the holy and undivided Trinity always existed as the Father of the second; and the whole difference, in our conception, is, that the material son has existed as the source of light only for a limited time, whereas the first person of the Trinity has existed as the Father of the second from all eternity, paternity being as essential to him as existence *.]
When therefore our Saviour seems to own his inferiority of knowledge, and to profess himself ignorant of some future events that the Father had reserved to himself, the meaning must be,-(a) Either that as man, he did not know beyond the capacities of an human and finite understanding, and not what he knew as God; or that as a prophet sent from God, he had no commission to declare it, and what was no part of his prophetic office," he knew nothing of," i. e. had no instructions to reveal it: For that in this sense † the original word is sometimes taken, we may learn from that passage to the Corinthians, where St Paul tells his disciples, that (b) he had "determined not to know any thing among them," i. e. not to teach or instruct them in any point of doctrine, save "Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
"It was one thing therefore (says the learned (c) Lightfoot) to understand the Son of God, barely and abstractly for the second person in the holy Trinity, and another to understand him for the Messiah, or second person incarnate. To say that the second person in the Trinity is ignorant of any thing, is blasphemous: But to say so of the
[I have employed the analogy suggested by the Nicene Fathers for the illustration of this mystery, as far as it can be illustrated; because it appears to myself more likely to be understood by the ordinary reader than that which was employed for the same purpose by Athenagoras and other Platonizing fa thers of the primitive church. Whoever wishes to see the analogy by which they endeavoured to illustrate the doctrines of the Trinity and the filiation of the Son of God finely stated, will find it in Bishop Horsley's Tracts in controversy with Dr Priestley, particularly in the fourth Supplemental Disquisition; but let it never be forgotten, that these and all other analogies, which can be employed for the same purpose, are but very faint resemblances, if we may dare to call them resemblances at all, of what they are intended to bring, in some degree, within the reach of human comprehension. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?".]
(a) Kidder's Demonstration of the Messias, part ii.
†The learned have observed, that the same verb, according to its several conjugations (as the Hebrew grammarians call them), may either signify an action, or the necessary concurrence of the author of that action, and that the conjugation hiphil, which properly signifies the concurrence of the author of the action with the action itself, is often used for the conjugation kal, by which the action barely, and the person or persons, who did it, are specified, without any additional sense, by which their special concurrence is to be understood. Thus jada, the root in kal, is only he knew, but hodia in hiphil, is he made known, and so on through the several tenses or times past, present, and to come. So that, according to this acceptation, what our Lord designed to acquaint his disciples with in Mark xiii. 32. was no more than this,
That neither the angels nor the Son intended then to make that day and hour known, but that the Fa, ther would in his proper time reveal it. Wotton's Omniscience of the Son of God, &c.
(b) 1 Cor. ii. 2.
(c) On Mark xiii, 32.
A. M. 4037, Messias (though he be that second person in the Trinity) is not so. For though the se&c. or 5112. cond person, abstractly considered, according to his more Deity, be co-equal with the Vulg. Er. 33, Father, co-omnipotent, co-omniscient, co-eternal with him; yet the Messias, who is &c. or 31. God-man, considered as the Messias, was a servant and a messenger to the Father, from whom he received commands and authority," as himself frequently declared, (a) "that he spake nothing of himself, but that the Father, who sent him, gave him commandment what he should say, and what he should speak." Though therefore it plainly appears, both from the many prognostics which he mentions, and the exact description which he gives of the destruction of Jerusalem, that our Saviour could not but know the precise day and hour of its happening, yet this he might call one of (b) “those times and seasons which the Father had put in his own power," because he had received no order or direction for him to reveal it.
The generality of the ancients, however, run into the other notion, which arises from the consideration of the two natures in Christ, and therefore (with Cyril of Alexandria) they say, that he sometimes declared himself as God and sometimes as man, thereby to shew that he was very God and very man; that as he was pleased, in respect of his manhood, to suffer hunger and thirst, and other inconveniences of that kind, so he condescended to take upon him the innocent infirmities of it, (among which ignorance of future events is one) but this without any disparagement to his (c) "Godhead, wherein are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;" and that, in short, he both knew and knew not when the day and hour, here spoken of, would come; the former with respect to his Divine, and the latter to his human nature. This solution however does not please so well. For if we refer the day and hour (as they were primarily intended) to the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, what signs and prognostics does our Saviour give his disciples of this great event? Why, he foretels them,-that "not one stone of all those glorious buildings should be left upon another; that there should be wars and rumours of wars, when nation should rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; that there should be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places; that false prophets and false Christs should arise, who should amuse them with destructive hopes of imaginary deliverances; that Jerusalem should be encompassed with a foreign enemy, who should at last make a final destruction of it, and of all that was therein; that the abomination of desolation should stand in the holy place, where, of all places in the world, it ought not to have stood; and that all these things should come to pass while some of the present generation were still alive." (d) Now, since all these things did literally come to pass, as our Lord forty years before had foretold that they should; since at the time of his foretelling them, the Romans were in peaceable possession of Judea, nor was there any prospect at all of the troubles and commotions which afterwards ensued; and since the completion of these prophecies is preserved to us by a Jewish writer, who himself was concerned in these very troubles, and did not record them with any design to gratify us Christians; can we imagine that Jesus Christ, who was this prophet, could possibly be ignorant of the day and hour when these predictions should be completed? Or rather, ought we not to think, that all he intended by that expression was to signify to his hearers, that it was then an improper time for him to reveal the particular period when that catastrophe was to overtake them? But two days after this his disciples own his Divinity, and acknowledge that (e)" he knew all things ;" and (f)" all things that he had heard from the Father," or had a commission to declare from the Father, himself avers, that he had not failed to make known unto them; and therefore we may well presume that the individual day and hour when Jerusalem was finally to be destroyed, as it was a
(a) John xii. 49.
the Son of God.
(b) Acts i. 7.
(c) Collos. ii. 3.
(d) Wotton's Omniscience of
end, Mark xi.
matter of no concern for them to be acquainted with, so was it no part of his instruc- From Matth. tions from heaven to let them into a minute knowledge of it; that in the signs and xx. 10. to the forerunners which he had discovered to them, he had said enough to put them, and all 15. to the end, considering men, upon their guard; that fuller and more particular indications of the Luke xix. 45. time (as things then stood) were by no means proper, for though they might possibly be John xii. 19. to able to (a) bear his words, yet others might be tempted to make an ill use of them, con- the end. trary to his original meaning.
to the end, and
It is to be observed, however, that in regard our blessed Saviour had the Divine and human nature both united in one person, great caution must be used in observing his actions and affections, that we do not mistake in assigning any of them to a wrong principle. (b) For as those works of wonder, which exceeded or controlled all the powers of created nature, must be attributed to a principle Omnipotent and Divine; so, in those others which relate either to joy or sorrow, subjection or exaltation, he must be understood to proceed upon a principle purely human, and that the faculties of the Divine nature were, in such cases, totally suspended.
Now, it is certain that the perfections of the Divine nature will admit of neither any increase nor diminution of its power and greatness. The author to the Hebrews (c) applies to our Saviour Christ these words of the Psalmist, (d)" Thou, O Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hand; and surely he, who created the world, and (e) " without whom not any thing was made that was made," could not fail of having from all eternity a sovereign power both in heaven and in earth. It is not in respect of his Divinity therefore, that our Lord speaks of his enlargement of power, but of his human nature, which, in reward of his obedience and humiliation, (f)" was highly exalted, and obtained of God a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
It is equally certain, that the Divine nature is not capable of any grief or sorrow, or other perturbation of mind, arising from an apprehension of some imminent danger, or a sense of some incumbent calamity; and therefore, when our Saviour complains of the vast load of sorrow that lay heavy upon his spirits, and almost quite sunk them down, this he must be supposed to say with regard to his human nature only, because his Divine was exempt from all such suffering. But then, the question is, from what particular cause it was that all this sorrow and fear and consternation of mind (for † so the original words import) could possibly arise?
(g) Those who impute all this to nothing more than a natural dread of pain and death, have this difficulty to contend with, that how grievous soever these things may be, especially to sinful flesh and blood, yet they are such as have been corrected by reason, and, in their most tremendous shapes, borne with great patience and resignation of mind; and therefore it can hardly be imagined, that the prospect of a crucifixion could have raised such commotions in a soul which had the testimony of a good conscience
a consternation and dejection of mind, bowing the
(a) John xvi. 12.
(b) Stanhope's Sermons on several occasions. (c) Heb. i. 10. (d) Psal. cii. 25. (e) John i. 3. (f) Philip. ii. 9, &c. The words in the original are three,-Avila, ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι, and ἀδημονεῖν. The first Aumuota is of a known and ordinary signification; but in this case it is to be raised to the highest degree of significancy, as appears by the words which follow, περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ Júx mov nws Javárov, Matth. xxvi. 38. So that it does not only signify an excess of sorrow, surrounding and encompassing the soul, but also such as brings VOL. III. 2 R
(g) See Stilling fleet's Sermons, Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. ii. and his Sermons on several occasions.
A. M. 4037. to support it, and a glorious reward set before it, to make a full recompence for what &c. or 5442, it suffered.
Vulg. Ær. 33,
&c. or 31.
(a) Others are of opinion, therefore, that this excessive sorrow and dejection of mind were occasioned by the perfect and penetrating light which then diffused itself in our Saviour's mind all at once, concerning the guilt of sin, and the wrath of an incensed God; that the horror of these filled and amazed his vast apprehensive soul; and that these apprehensions could not but affect his tender heart, full of the highest zeal for God's glory, and the most relenting compassion for the souls of men: "For if the true contrition of one single sinner, () say they, bleeding under the sting of the law, only for his own iniquities, cannot be performed without great bitterness of sorrow and remorse, what bounds can be set to that grief, what measures to that anguish, which proceeded from a full apprehension of all the transgressions of so many millions of sin
(c) This is the most common solution: And yet there is something in the context which has induced others to think, that on this occasion the devil and his angels had collected all their force, in order to fill our Saviour's mind with the most dismal, terrifying scenes of horror, thereby to divert him from his intended enterprize. For, 1st, we may observe, that before he entered the garden where this agony seized him, he expected some terrible assault from these infernal powers, and therefore he tells his disciples," the prince of the world cometh (d), i. e. is now mustering up his legions to make his last effort upon me; but this is my comfort, that he will find nothing in me, no sinful inclination to take part with him, no guilty reflection to expose me to his tyranny. 2dly, That when the disciples entered the garden with our Lord, he gave them a strict charge (e) "to watch and pray, that they might not enter into temptation;" which plainly implies, that at that time and place, there was some occasion for a more than ordinary application to these duties; and this cannot so well be imputed to any thing else, as those numbers of evil spirits who were going furiously to assault their Master, and would not altogether spare them. And, 3dly, that when the three elect apostles were a little advanced with him into the garden, he earnestly intreated them to watch with him; and yet we find them suddenly asleep, and no sooner awoke, but asleep again and again; for the text tells us, (f)" that their eyes were heavy;" which prodigious drowsiness of theirs, upon so momentous an occasion, cannot be ascribed to any thing so well as to a preternatural stupefaction of their senses, by some of these infernal spirits now conflicting with their Master, and who, perhaps, to deprive him of the solace of their company, did, by their diabolical arts, produce that extraordinary stupor which oppressed them, that so, having him alone, they might have the greater advantage to tempt and terrify him.
These observations make it highly probable, that this his last agony was occasioned by a mighty struggle and conflict with the powers of darkness, (g) who having, by God's permission, mustered up all their strength, intended once more to try their fortune against him, and to this purpose surrounding him, very probably, with a mighty host, exerted all their power and malice in persecuting his innocent soul; in distracting it with horrid phantasms; in afflicting it with dismal suggestions; in vexing and tormenting it with dire imaginations and dreadful spectacles; and, in short, in practising all the arts and machinations that their malice and subtilty could invent, to tempt and deter him, if possible, from his gracious design of redeeming mankind.
(h) Had our Lord, indeed, in this conflict been assisted with any succour from his Divinity, this would have set him far above the opposition of any created power; but
(a) Pearson on the Creed, and South's Sermons, vol. iii.
(d) John xiv. 30.
(6) Ibid. (f) Ibid, ver. 43.
(c) Scot's Mediator. (g) Scot's Mediator.