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1. From angels, who are called 'the sons of God,' Job xxxviii. 7. They were filled with joy, and shouted with a triumphant voice, when they saw the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, appearing so illustriously in the work of creation, when God laid the foundations of the earth. Now, the angels are called the sons of God.
(1.) Because they had their whole being from him. They are his sons by creation; in which sense also Adam is called the son of God,' Luke iii. 38.
(2.) Because of their great and mighty power. Hence they are styled, principality, and power, and might, and dominion,' Eph. i. 21. They are like him in power and dignity.
(3.) Because they serve him as sous, cheerfully, willingly, and readily. They do not obey as slaves, or servants, or the best of servants; but they obey as children. They go his errands with a filial cheerfulness and delight. 'A son honoureth his father,' saith the Lord. It should be the temper and disposition of every son to do so. This is not only the disposition of angels, but they have actually done it, and may say unto God, as the elder brother is brought in saying in the parable, Luke xv. 'Lo these many years have we been with thee,' even ever since the creation of the world, 'and have never transgressed nor neglected thy commandments at
(4.) Because of the great privileges which God bestows upon them. He uses them as his sons and children. They are his courtiers, and near to his person, and always surround his throne, and behold his face. They are continually under the meridian beams of his ravishing and life-giving countenance.
(5.) Because of their likeness to God in essence. He is a spirit, an incorporeal and immaterial being, and angels are spiritual and incorporeal substances. Though the difference between God and them be as great as can be conceived, yea truly inconceivable; God being the creating spirit, and they created spirits ; God being an infinite spirit, and they but finite ones; yet the angels bear a resemblance to God in their essence, as well as in their qualifications, and may upon that account also be called the sons of God: but they are only the sons of God by creation : Whereas Christ is his Son by an eternal and ineffable generation. Christ alone is the Son of God by nature.
2. Believers are called the sons of God, John i. 12. And they are so by adoption and regeneration, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. Believers differ from the angels in this; for they do not stand in need of regeneration, or any gracious change to be wrought in them: for as they were created holy and pure beings, so they have continued in that integrity and holiness with which they were made, and have not lost it: and therefore Christ is no Redeemer to them.
3. Christ differs both from angels and saints in this, that he is the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, as the Scripture verifies, Matth. iii. 17. and xvii. 5.
Now, that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, is the eternal Son of God, or was begotten of the Father from all eternity, is clear from the holy scriptures; for to divine revelation alone are we indebted for the knowledge of this important truth. To this end let
. us consider, Psal. ii. 7. Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' This passage is applied to Christ in several places of the New Testament. The word, 'this day,' doth not denote a certain time when this generation began, but is used to express the eternity thereof. And that which is eternal is expressed by that term, to shew and hold forth unto us, that all things past and to come are present with God in regard of his eternity. There is no succession
. in eternity, no yesterday nor to-morrow; but it is all as one continued day or moment, without any succession or change. Therefore the generation of the Son being eternal, it is rightly designed by this term. And although in this and the following verses we have a declaration of God's decree and appointment concerning the advancement of Christ to his Mediatory throne and kingdom; yet in this verse, the generation of the Son is not mentioned as a part of that decree, but only as the ground and foundation thereof. For unless Christ had been the Son of God by eternal generation, he could not have been our Mediator and Redeemer; nor could he have obtained a throne and kingdom as such. And this eternal generation of the Son was solemnly declared by his resurrection from the dead. This is the apostle's scope when he says, ' We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,' Acts xiii. 32, 33. He might well say, this scripture, Psal. ii. 7. was fulfilled by raising Christ from the dead, because by his resurrection the truth of it was openly proclaimed and declared to the world, as the same apostle tells us, Rom. i. 4.
We may argue for this likewise from Micah v. 2. 'But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel : wliose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. This text is applied to Christ, Matth. ii. C; and that it must be understood of liim, and of no other, is plain, because lic
is promised as the King and Ruler of his church : and in the following verses there is ascribed unto him the calling of the Gentiles, invincible power and majesty in his providential dispensations, doctrine, and miracles, and an universal kingdom and government over Jews and Gentiles through the earth. Now, there is a twofold going forth here attributed to him. The first is external and visible, namely, his going forth from the city of Bethlehem, by being born of a virgin. This is a temporal generation, and is therefore spoken of as 'a thing to come, 'He shall come forth unto me.' But lest any should look on him as a mere man, and as one that began to be at his incarnation, therefore a second going forth is mentioned, which is internal and eternal : Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,' or ' from the days of eternity,' as it is in the original text. These words design his eternal generation, as being begotten of the Father from all eternity; for he could not go forth from the Father from everlasting but by generation.
This truth is further clear from Christ's being called the Son of God. He is often so designed in scripture. The Father did solemnly proclaim him to be so by an audible voice from heaven, both at his baptism and his transfiguration. He is the Son of God in a most proper and singular manner, viz. by the Father's communicating the divine essence to him by eternal generation. This name given to Christ is more excellent than any name given to the angels, though they are also called the sons of God, Heb. i. 4, 5. ' For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee?' Ho is so the Son of God, as on that account he is equal with the Father. Therefore, when he told the Jews, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work, it is said, 'The Jews sought the more to kill him, because he said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God,' John v. 17, 18. The Jews concluded from what ho had said, that he made himself equal with God. And their conclusion was very just: for he did not find fault with them for so doing, nor charge them with reproaching him; nor doth he clear any mistake about it, as certainly he would have done, if they had been in any. Therefore what they conclude from his discourse is plainly asserted by the apostle, Phil. ii. 6. in these words, 'He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.' So that Christ's scope and design, John v. is plainly to shew, that he was the Son of God in such a manner, that he was the same in substance with the Father, and equal with him in dignity and glory.
And as to the nature of this generation, our blessed Lord himself doth in some measure explain it to us, so far as we are capable to apprehend this great mystery, when he tells us, John, v. 26.' As
the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.' So that to beget the Son, is to give to the Son to have life in himself, as the Father hath life in himself; which doth necessarily import a communication of the same individual essence. For to have life in himself was an essential attribute of God; i. e. to have life independently, of and from himself; and to be the source and fountain of life to all the creatures, is a perfection proper to God, inseparable from his nature, yea, the very same with his essence. And therefore the Father cannot give it, unless he give the essence itself: and he cannot give the essence by way of alienation, for then he himself would cease to be God; nor by way of participation, seeing the divine nature is one, and cannot be divided. Therefore it must be by way of communication. So that the generation of the Son is that eternal action of the Father, whereby he did communicate to the Son the same individual essence which he himself hath, that the Son might have it equal with himself. But as to the manner of this generation, or communication of the divine essence of the Son, it is altogether ineffable and inconceivable to us. It is simply impossible for poor weak worms, such as we are, to understand or explain wherein it consists. It is not natural, but supernatural, and wholly divine, and therefore incomprehensible by us. Yea, it is incomprehensible even by the angels themselves, who far exceed men in intellectual abilities. We may justly hereunto apply what we have, Isa. liii. 8. ' Who shall declare his generation?' This whole mystery is incomprehensible by us: we ought humbly and reverently to adore what we cannot comprehend. There is a coummunication of the whole essence or Godhead from the Father to the Son, in receiving whereof the Son doth no more lessen or diminish the majesty or Godhead of the Father, than the light of one candle doth the light of another from which it is taken. Whereupon the council of Nice said well, that Christ is God of God, light of light, very God of very God, not proceeding but begotten. Hence it is clear, that he had a being before he was born of a virgin, yea from eternity; and that he is the true God, and the niost high God, equal with the Father, Phil. ii. 6. John i. 1.; for no being can be eternal but God.
Secondly, The Son of God became man. It was not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, that was incarnate, but the Son, John i. 14. · The word was made flesh.' He was 'God manifested in the flesh,' 1 Tim. iii. 16. But though he was from eternity God, yet the world had lasted well nigh four thousand years ere he became man.
Thirdly, Why did it behove Christ, in order to be our Redeemer, to be God and man ? he could not be our Redeemer, if he had not been both.
1. He behoved to be God, (1.) That he might be able to bear the weight of the infinite wrath of God due to the elect's sins, and come out from under that heavy load, Acts ii. 24. (2.) That his temporary sufferings might be of infinite value, and afford full satisfaction to the law and justice of God, Heb. ix. 14. In these respects none other but one who was God could redeem us.
2. He behoved to be man, (1.) That he might be capable to suffer death, Heb. ii. 14. (2.) That the same nature which sinned might suffer, Ezek. xviii. 4. 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die.' (3.) That he might be a merciful High Priest, Heb. ii. 16, 17. and that we might have comfort and boldness of access to the throne of grace having an High Priest of our own nature as our Intercessor there.
III. I come now to prove, that Christ is God and man, in two distinct natures, and one person. Christ is God and man by a personal union of two natures. The two natures in Christ remain distinct: the Godhead was not changed into the manhood, nor the manhood into the Godhead: for the scripture speaks of these as distinct, Rom. i. 3. 1 Pet. iii. 18. Heb. ix. 14.; and of two wills in Christ, a human and a divine, Luke xxii. 42. These natures remain still with their distinct properties, that as the divine nature is not made finite, so neither is the human nature adorned with the divine attributes. It is not omnipotent, 2 Cor. xiii. 4. ; nor omnipresent, John xi. 15; nor omniscient, Mark xiii. 22. &c. Yet are they not divided ; nor is Christ two persons, but one; even as our soul and body though distinct things, make but one person. This is clear from the text, which shews that the Son of God was made of a woman; which seeing it cannot be understood of his divine nature, but of the human, it is plain that both natures make but one person. And elsewhere he is described as one person consisting of two natures, Rom. i. 3. and ix. 5. And it was necessary that the natures should be distinct; because otherwise, either the Divinity would have advanced his humanity above the capacity of suffering, or his humanity depressed his Divinity below the capacity of meriting. And it was necessary that he should be one person; because otherwise his blood had not been the blood of God, Acts xx. 28. nor of the Son of God, 1 John i. 7. and so not of infinite value. Wherefore Christ took on him the human nature, but not a human person.
Lastly, Christ was, and so will continue God and man for ever. This union never was dissolved. He died in our flesh to save us; he rose again in it, and ascended to heaven in it, and will continue ever in it. Heb. vii. 24. It will be a part of the happiness of the saints after the resurrection, that they shall feed their eyes for ever in beholding the glorified body of the blessed Redeemer.