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of the man upon the cross, and the interposition of divine providence in so striking a manner on his behalf, they apprehended a relation betwixt him and God; that he was a favorite of heaven; and if we consider how the other evangelists record this matter, it will be evident, that the meaning must be as above; and by no means, that they thought the Son they spoke of was God. Mark says,—" When* the centurion saw that he cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, truly this man was the Son of God."
And Luke says, Nowt when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous man.”
It is very plain the evangelists had no such notion of the centurion's words, as many divines since have had, who would persuade the world, that they are a notable proof that Christ is God, as he is a Son; whereas the direct contrary is not obscurely intimated, if we will admit the evangelist Luke to interpret what is meant by the Son of God, in the other two evangelists. It is admirable, what pitiful shifts the advocates for that opinion have Aed to. One of them on this subject finds he cannot reconcile the evangelists to his cause, and rather than yield to them he boldly contradicts them, by alledging, “ that what some of them have said, is not the language of the centurion, but of those who were with him," though all the three mention the centurion particularly; and though it were even granted against the evangelists, it would not in the least help that tottering cause.
I shall only mention one text more, as I think the matter is abundantly clear.-" Whenf all things shall be subdued unto him (Christ); then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” To take sonship here for the divine nature of our Lord Jesus, must infer that he has no original right to the things which are put under him; for this is said to be done by another: but as he is God, he has the same underived claim to all things with the Father; if it be owned that he is of the same nature, power, and glory. 'Tis here said, “ Then shall the Son himself be subject,” (according to our translation of the text)—which plainly shews, that as a Son he is subject: but as to his Deity, he is “ God* over all, blessed for ever.” Subjection is proper to his character as a Son; but sovereign and absolute dominion is natural to him as he is God; therefore, as he is God, he cannot be a Son.
• Mark xv. 39.
1 Cor. xv. 28,
+ Lake xxiii. 47.
Many more texts might be brought in here, to shew the weakness of confining the sonship of Christ to his pure Deity, or an act of eternal generation whereby bis divine person was begotten by the Father; the absurdity of which is evident from every text in the sacred records, that mention any thing concerning him as a Son.
The reader may join these few with others mentioned, at page 191, as equally clear in favor of economical sonship, which will be still more conspicuous from the consideration of these texts, commonly advanced to prove that kind of sonship I am here disclaiming; but before I proceed to these, I shall observe further here,
6. That it is a sufficient reason to reject any human scheme introduced into religion, which hath not the stamp of divine authority, when it is used with more advantage by adversaries against the truth, than it can be by friends in defence thereof. What countenance those of the Arian persuasion have in this scheme, is evident from the advantage they have taken from it to dishonor the Lord of life. To this is owing their success, since some of their modern advocates have refined the Arian hypothesis, by grafting on a stock so near of kin to this scheme, that they take occasion from it to insult the faith of christians, and reproach the doctrine of the Deity of our Lord Jesus, as if it had no better arguments to support it.
* Rom. ix. 5.
The affinity betwixt this scheme and the Arian hypothesis, shews it to be a very unnecessary opposition which the Arians have maintained for many years against it, which is only founded on the different ideas the contending parties affix to the same words. For there is very little in what is called the orthodox explanation of the Trinity, to hinder the strictest Arian in the world to subscribe it. The words used in it cannot by the unprejudiced be understood in any other sense than what the Arians contend for; and perhaps the most intelligent among them would find some difficulty to express their own sentiments in stronger terms than the pretended orthodox have done for them, which incohereut, unscriptural notions, have contributed more to the growth of Arianism, than all other means besides,
There are indeed some phrases thrust into the scheme merely in opposition to the Arians, without any regard to scripture, or their connection and agreement with the other parts of it; which only make the whole appear the more inconsistent, and tend to confirm the enemies to the Deity of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Ghost, in their opposition to a truth maintained in a manner so void of scripture ideas, and so contradictory in itself, as to
render the whole scheme unintelligible to any inpartial enquirer.
In such a mind it begets a mighty prejudice against the belief of the Deity of Christ, when he finds it maintained that he is a Son, as he is God: --that his divine personality is begotten:that his Deity depends upon his sonship:that bis divine nature is communicated to him. Which is all of a kind; not a word of truth in the whole; and amounts to no more than that his Deity depends upon his derived, dependent character. For the notion of a son in all languages among mankind, imports derivation and dependence; and the scheme insinuates in the strongest terms, that Christ's divinity is of this kind, since he receives it by communication. Whereas the notion of proper Deity imports independence, inorigination, and self-existence, which to the impartial enquirer, carries a contradiction in the very ternis: and there is the greatest probability, if such a person had no other means of learning the Deity of Christ, than by this human scheme of doctrine, he would either prove an Arian, or conclude it beyond his conceptions, from the contradictions so manifest in every part of it: and that it may appear, I do not say this out of any ill-grounded prejudice against this scheme, I shall conclude the reflections in this section, with a short account of a few of the selfevident contradictions therein.
The first leading contradiction, which I take to be the foundation of all others, is, That though it is acknowledged, that revelation only teacheth us the true knowledge of God: that nothing is matter of divine faith, but what hath a divine testimony: that we are to believe nothing concerning the Trinity, but what is clearly revealed in scripture: that God alone is author of all the knowledge we can have of himself; and that this is contained in his word of revelation. These propositions are strictly true, and confessed to be so by the professed orthodox, who, yet, are fond of a scheme in which there are many things said of God not revealed by him, but devised, and imposed by men ; who take it upon them to correct the divine eloquence, as if he who holds the fabric of nature in his hand, did not know how to accommodate his doctrines to the capacities of his creatures: and will teach him to speak who gave a mouth to man.
But what notable discovery do they make, who are thus wise above what is written, in their additions to the divine oracles? Why, they are so honest as to tell us, that the words they use, are not to be taken in any sense that mankind is capable of understanding them in. Now, what presumption is this, for mortals to clothe divine truth with modes of expression which they themselves are ignorant of, and know not how they are applicable to the subject which they pretend to explain by them! This is just to form a scheme, and then tell the world it must be believed: but the words it is composed of, are void of sense and meaning when so applied! How dismal had the case of mankind been, had God dealt thus in inditing his sacred revelation!
But further, they tell us that the nature of God is an ineffable mystesy, beyond the comprehension of all creatures: yet in this scheme, there is a demonstration of it, a definition of the internal modes of subsistence of all the persons in Deity.
Here we are also taught, that the divine person of the FATHER IS FIRST, the Son SECOND, and the Holy Ghost THIRD:--yet none of the persons