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Testament, as 2 Cor. v. 17: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;" Gal. vi. 15: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature;" Eph. ii. 10: "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."th
The very same word which is used when things are said to be created by Christ, is even applied to human institutions; as in 1 Pet. ii. 13: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man,” (παση ανθρωπινῇ κτισει,) every creation of man; and it is remarkable that the creation which is ascribed to Christ in the epistle to the Colossians, is of the same nature with this which is here ascribed to men, viz. that of dominions, principalities, and pawers, ai hamados
Now, since it is most evident that the term creation is used in two senses, the one literal, and the other figurative, you ought not to determine the application of it, in any particular passage, to either of them, without a.reason; and since the creation of the heavens and the earth, whenever they are expressly mentioned, is constantly ascribed to God the Father; and the figurative creation only, where that is evidently intended, to Christ, we are certainly not authorized to ascribe to him any other creation than the latter, in any passage in which the expression is indefinite. If this be not a natural and just rule of interpretation, I am not acquainted with any that ought to be called such; and this clearly gives the creation of the world to the Father, and not to Christ.
After reciting those passages which you think prove that the apostles considered Christ as the maker of the world, but without any notice of the Socinian interpretations of them, you say, "It is a circumstance a little discouraging, in reciting this evidence from scripture, that some modern Socinians would not be convinced by it, were it ever so clear and decisive." Then, mentioning my name with a degree of respect to which I cannot think myself entitled, you say, He intimates, that had this been the opinion of the apostles we should not be bound to receive it"||
Now, unless you believe the plenary and universal in.. spiration of the apostles, which you will not pretend to do, I do not see why you should be at all staggered at this. Suppose any of the apostles had incidently spoken of the
* See Vol. XIV. p. 169.
Sermons, pp. 141, 142, Note. (P.)
↑ See ibid. pp. 268, 269.
As "a highly valued friend, and one of the most distinguished writers of the present times." Ibid. p. 142.
sun and stars revolving round the earth, (which, if they had given any opinion on the subject, they probably would,)! should you have subscribed to it? You would have said,› that such an opinion had no connexion with their proper commission. Shew, then, the necessary connexion (for of imaginary and remote connexions there is no end) between, any thing in, or belonging to, the commission of the apostles," Go,-and teach all nations," &c., and the doctrine. of the making of the world by Christ. It certainly was not necessary that he who came to redeem the world, (whatever you mean by that term,) should have created it also."
As I have observed before, you cannot say that Christ himself ever, dropped the most distant hint of his having been the maker of the world.. Nay, the contrary, as I have shewn, is implied in what he said. We ought, therefore, to have very good and clear evidence, to, think that the apostles meant not only to advance so much above what had been taught by their Master, but really to teach a contrary doctrinel
¦¦ Had I been living in the age of the apostles, and heard any of them advance such an opinion, I think I should have taken the liberty to ask their authority for it. The Jews, who looked to the prophets for the character and office of the Messiah, where they saw nothing of the kind, might well have said to any of them who should have taught such a doctrine as this, Thou bringest strange things to our ears. That such a remark does not appear to have been made, amounts, in my opinion, to a proof that no such doctrine was taught, t H 0)ais
I am, &c.
Of the Argument for the pre-existent Dignity of Christ from his working Miracles.
SHALL now drop the consideration of Christ having been the creator of the world, and attend to what you have said of his pre-existent dignity in general. Among other proofs of this, you say, "The history of our Saviour, as given in the New Testament, and the events of his life and ministry, answer best to the opinion of the superiority of his nature;" and among other particulars, you enumerate "the
wisdom which discovered itself in his doctrine, and by which he spoke as never man spoke that knowledge of the hearts of men, by which he could speak to their thoughts, as we do to one another's words;" and "those miraculous powers by which, with a command over nature like that which first produced it, he ordered tempests to cease, and gave eyes to the blind, limbs to the maimed, reason to the frantic, health to the sick, and life to the dead."
These instances of wisdom and power would indeed be a proof of a nature superior to man, if in any proper sense this wisdom and power could be said to be his own, or to belong to him, as the powers of walking and speaking belong to men in general, powers which we can exert whenever we please. But the reverse of this is most clearly asserted by our Lord himself, John xiv. 10: The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."t
This is indeed fully acknowledged by yourself in your Sermon on the resurrection of Lazarus," where you say, "The manner in which he refers this miracle to the will and power of God, requires our attention. After the stone was taken away, he made, we are told, a solemn address to God; and, lifting up his eyes, said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. This implies that his ability to work this miracle was the consequence of his having prayed for it. Throughout his whole ministry, he was careful to direct the regards of men to the Deity, as the fountain of all his powers. His language was, The Father who dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. I can of mine own self do nothing. I came to do the will of him that sent me." This is very ingenuous, but surely not very consistent with your inferring the super-human nature of Christ from his miracles, which, according to your own account, might have been wrought by any man, equally aided by God.
The persons who saw the miracles of Christ, and who must have been as good judges in the case as we can pretend to be, never inferred from them that he was, in himself, of a nature superior to man, but only that God was with him, and acted by him, as he had done by Moses. Among others, Nicodemus says, (John iii. 2,) ❝ Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God, For no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." After
Sermons, pp. 124, 125. (P.)
+ See Vol. XIII. pp. 314, 315.
he had cured a person sick of the palsy at Capernaum, we read, Matt. ix. 8, "When the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, who had given such power unto men. After the cure of the demoniac, on the descent of Christ from the Mount of Transfiguration, (Luke ix. 43,) it is said, "They were all amazed at the mighty power of God." And after his raising the widow's son to life, it is said, (Luke vii. 16,) "And there came a fear on all, and they glorified God, saying, that a great prophet is risen up among us, and that God had visited his people;"† meaning, no doubt, as he had done the Israelites in Egypt, by sending Moses to them.
Besides, I do not see how your argument for the superior nature of Christ from his miracles is consistent with what you say of the suspension of his powers. "That humiliation of Christ, and suspension of his powers, which is implied in his being made a man, and growing up from infancy to mature age, subject to all our wants and sorrows, is indeed, as to the manner of it, entirely incomprehensible to us."+
But perhaps your idea was, that his natural powers were suspended only from the time of his incarnation to that of his public ministry; when the full exercise of them was restored to him, so that he wrought his miracles with no more particular assistance than I have in writing this book. But such a temporary suspension and restoration of his powers is a mere arbitrary supposition, without any foundation in the history, or rather in contradiction to all those passages that imply the immediate agency of the Father in the miracles of Christ. There is also, in this case, a difficulty which I have mentioned before, and to which you do not seem to have given sufficient attention, viz. that in this interval of thirty years, the government of the world was in different hands, and yet without any change being, I presume, perceived in the conduct of it.
I am, &c.
• See Vol. XIII. p. 103. Mr. Lindsey justifies the opinion that our Lord was not "of a nature superior to man" by the following, among other passages from "St. Luke, treating of the things that happened after Christ's resurrection;" from which "it is demonstrable" that the Evangelist "looked upon Jesus to be one of the human race."
Mr. L. instances Acts ji. 22, where Peter expressly calls Jesus a man, of Nazareth, who had received high extraordinary powers from Almighty God;" xiii. 23, where" Paul represents Jesus, as a man of David's family;" xvii. 24, 31, where he" calls him expressly a man appointed to an important office under God that made the world;" xxii. 8, where Christ, in his highest exaltation, calls himself Jesus of Nazareth, that is, the man of Nazareth." Two Dissertations, 1779, pp. 28, 29.
Of the Argument for the pre-existent Dignity of Christ, from his being supposed to have raised himself from the Dead, and from his voluntarily dismissing his Spirit when he died.
"Another fact," you say, " of the same kind" (viz. which proves his nature to be superior to that of man) is his raising himself from the dead. This he seems to have intimated, when he says to the Jews, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again. But more expressly in John x. 17, 18: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. In all other places God is said to have raised Christ from the dead; and these words inform us how this is to be understood. God raised Christ from the dead by giving him a power to raise himself from the dead, and not only himself, but all the world."*
But can you suppose that, if every thing which exceeded the power of an ordinary man that was seemingly done by Christ, was not really done by him, but by God who was with him, while he was alive, the case was not the same with every thing that respected him when he was dead? Or can you imagine that, if the apostles had understood him to mean what you do, in the expressions above quoted, they would not have made the greatest account of the circumstance, and have expressed it in the clearest terms after his resurrection, as a proof of his pre-existent dignity and superior nature? But, as you acknowledge, " in all other places GOD is said to have raised Christ from the dead" and though the resurrection of Christ is frequently mentioned by them, there does not occur a single expression, in all their preaching or writing, that, by any mode of construction, can be interpreted into an intimation that they had the idea of his having raised himself from the dead. It is plain therefore, that his disciples did not understand him to mean what you do in the expressions you have quoted."
Besides, the expressions which you have quoted, easily admit of another interpretation; whereas, in the num
Sermons, pp. 128-131. (P.)