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this power, (which, to all the purposes of the present question, is the same thing with divesting himself of it,) when he voluntarily yielded himself up into the power of his enemies; though, as he assures us, he might have prayed to the Father, and he would have sent legions of angels to rescue him out of their hands. And however his death was distinguished by miracles, which God thought proper to work for that purpose, it does not appear that he himself was in the smallest degree instrumental in working them; and they did not save him from death, or alleviate his sufferings in the least. lt sich eben
Considering the amazing difference between the appearance of Jesus when stilling the waves of the sea, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead, and that of the same person in the hands of his enemies, and hanging on a cross; surely it is not too much to describe the former, by saying, that he was in the form of God, and the latter by saying he was in the form of a slave; crucifixion being the death to which slaves were usually put. I therefore see no reason to be dissatisfied with the interpretation which the Socinians usually put upon this celebrated text; nor do I think it to be in the least degree favourable to the Arian hypothesis.
I am, &c.
Of the Argument for the superior Nature of Christ, from his raising the Dead and judging the World.
I NOW come to the consideration of two circumstances, on which you have laid very great stress, as incontestably proving that Christ must have had powers superior to those of man, and, consequently, have been of a nature superior to that of man; I mean his being destined to rate the dead and judge the world at the last day. On this subject you express yourself with peculiar energy, and an air of triumph.
"The Scriptures," you say, "tell us that Christ, after his resurrection, became Lord of the dead and living; that he had all power given him in heaven and earth; that angels were made subject to him, and that he is hereafter to raise all the dead, to judge the world, and to finish the scheme of the Divine moral government with respect to this earth, by conferring eternal happiness on all the virtuous, and punish
ing the wicked with everlasting destruction. Consider whether such an elevation of a mere man is credible, or even possible. Can it be believed that a mere man could be advanced at once so high as to be above angels, and to be qualified to rule and judge this world? Does not this contradict all that we see, or can conceive of the order of God's works? Do not all beings rise gradually, one acquisition laying the foundation of another, and preparing for higher acquisitions? What would you think, were you told, that a child just born, instead of growing like all other human creatures, had started at once to complete manhood, and the government of an empire? This is nothing to the fact I am considering. The power, in particular, which the Scriptures teach us that Christ possesses, of raising to life all who have died, and all who will die, is equivalent to the power of creating a world, How inconsistent is it to allow to him one of these powers, and at the same time to question whether he could have possessed the other; to allow that he is to restore and new create this world, and yet to deny that he might have been God's agent in originally forming it !"*
I was not willing to abridge any part of this fine passage, to shew that I am not afraid to meet the full force of your argument. I shall not, however, attempt to answer this piece of eloquence (for such it is) by a similar one. In that I should fail. But I shall take the liberty to analyze it, and interpret one scripture expression by another. Now, there are but two particulars of much consequence, in which the great power and prerogative of Christ are here said to consist one is that of raising the dead, and the other, that of judging the world.....!
As to the former, you will hardly say that Christ will hereafter raise the dead by any other power than that by which he raised them when he was on earth; and this, you have acknowledged, not to have been by any power properly his own t that of his Father, who was in him, or acted by him. And in the same manner you cannot deny but that he was in, or acted by other mere men; for some of the old prophets raised the dead, before Christ, as did the apostles after him. From this circumstance, therefore, we are not obliged to infer that Christ was of a nature superior to that of man.
Christ is also said to judge the world. But whatever knowledge may be requisite to his doing this, may be as
Sermons. Dd. 146–148. (P.)
easily imparted by God, as the power of raising the dead; though, when you say that his qualifications for discharging this office were acquired suddenly, you overlook the long interval between his ascension and his second coming, in which you cannot suppose that he is doing and learning nothing.
However, if we interpret the Scriptures by themselves, you must acknowledge that this office of judging the world, in whatever it consists, and in whatever manner it be discharged, is no more peculiar to Christ than that of raising the dead. Our Saviour himself says, Matt. xix. 28, “ Verily, I say unto you, that ye who have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of this glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." And the apostle Paul says, (1 Cor. via 2,3,) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the worlde Know ye not that we shall judge angels?"+ Whatever superiority to angels is ever said to be given to Christ, is here sufficiently intimated to be given to all Chris. tians; for the person judging is certainly superior to the person judged. *! ti
You may say, that we are to understand the term judging literally with respect to Christ, but figuratively with respect to his disciples; but this is quite arbitrary and unauthorized. Judging the world, therefore, is no proof of a nature superior to that of man. Nay, so far is this business of judging from being considered as a proof of a superior nature, that our Saviour himself represents it as peculiarly proper to him as a man. John v. 27: "And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of man." Not so, the Arian will say, but because he is the Son of God, and was so before all worlds. But this is being wise above what is written.
In this manner it is easily shewn, that, whatever glory or power is attributed to Christ in the Scriptures, the same in kind, if not in degree, is ascribed to all his diss, and especially his apostles. Indeed, this is fully asserted in general, but very expressive terms, by our Saviour himself, in his last solemn prayer, in which he says, (John xvii. 22,) "And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one."§ The apostle Paul also says, (Rom. viii. 17,) "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be
* See Vol. XIII. p. 260. ↑ See Vol. XIII. p. 166.
† See Vol. XIV. pp. 73, 74.
that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." From this it is impossible to collect any idea of difference, except in precedence, of beings of the same rank. On this idea Christ is styled our elder brother.*
But how could he be considered our brother, if he was our maker? The difference would be far too great to admit of any such comparison.
Thus, I imagine, I have in some measure answered your demand, where, after exhibiting what may be called the low Socinian scheme, "the only ground," you say, "on which the Socinian doctrine is tenable," you add, "The consequence, however, of thus lowering Christ before his death, is the necessity of lowering him likewise since his death. And accordingly, this able writer, whose candour appears to be such as will not suffer him to evade any fair inference from his opinions, has farther intimated, that Christ's judging the world may mean less than is commonly believed, and perhaps the same that is meant, 1 Cor. vi. 2, where it is said, that the saints are to judge the world. I hope that some time or other he will have the goodness to oblige the public by explaining himself on this subject; and when he does, I hope he will farther shew, how much less than is commonly believed we are to understand by Christ's RAISING THE WORLD FROM THE DEAD."†
If by Christ's raising men from the dead hereafter, you understand a raising them by a power different from that by which he raised them here, viz, a power that may, in any proper sense, be called his own, which you sometimes seem to apprehend, and which, indeed, your argument requires, my idea of it is very different from yours; but then I think you will not easily find any authority for your opinion in the Scriptures.
There must always be great uncertainty in the interpretation of prophecies not yet fulfilled. We cannot, therefore, expect to understand what is meant by the phrase, judging the world by Christ, or by the saints; but it is very possible that it may be something very different from what the literal meaning of the words would convey to us. Perhaps neither the saints nor Christ will then discover any greater discernment of characters than all men, even those who shall then be judged, will be possessed of; in consequence of which, every person present may be satisfied, from his own inspection, as it were, that every character is justly discriminated,
• See Vol. XIV. p. 226.
† Sermons, p. 130, Note. (P.)
and the condition of all persons properly determined; all having the same intuitive knowledge of themselves and of each other; all equally judging from the appearances which will then be presented to them. Indeed, a general conviction of the equity of the proceedings of that great day seems to require this general knowledge.
You express much surprise at the Socinian interpretation of the Scriptures; and I, in my turn, cannot help expressing some surprise, that the comparison of some prophetic phrases of Scripture, with the fulfilment of them, should not have led you to suspect that much less than the words literally intimate may be intended by what is said of the world being judged by Christ. I shall recall to your attention two prophecies, as they may be termed, of this kind.
When God appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet, he said, (Jer. i. 10,)" See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant." Do not these phrases, literally interpreted, imply that as much power was given to Jeremiah in this world as is ever said to be given to Christ in the next? And yet we are satisfied, that all that was meant by them was, that by him God would signify his intentions concerning what he would do with respect to various nations in the neighbourhood of Judea, and that Jeremiah, personally considered, had no more power than any other man.*
Our Lord said to Peter, (Matt. xvi. 19,) "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." To appearance, this was giving Peter more power than was given to Jeremiah. But if we consider what was actually done by Peter and the other apostles, (for the same power is elsewhere given to them all,) we shall find that much less was intended by this phraseology than the literal import might lead us to imagine.
Interpreters differ with respect to its meaning. But it is evident that, at the most, it could only mean the apostle's being empowered to signify the will of God, and to pronounce what he would do; as when Peter passed sentence upon Simon (Acts viii. 20) and upon Sapphira [v. 9]. For these are the greatest acts of power that we ever find to be exercised by Peter, or any of the apostles. But this was no
• See Vol. XII. p. 211.
+ See Vol. XIII. pp. 183, 184.