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Holding on to this to sustain our: steps ; sup: pose we, for a moment, wander in the track of vain imagination, and admit, that there existed an infinite period, previous to the Son's proceeding from the bosom of the Father, to begin the works of creation, providence, incarnation, triumph over death, and redemption; what is that to us ? does it take any thing from his God-head ? does it add to or diminish any thing from, his essential glory, or our eternal felicity, through him? We think not, unless we should admit that there is an increase in the attributes of God, or growth in his divine nature, and that it is changeable, and mutable; which we cannot, and will not admit, for a momenta
CHAPTER V. • Further views of the same subject, in continuation.
It is, perhaps, worthy of a passing remark, that many in taking their view of Christ's proper gen. eration, have argued that he was a dependent being. We can see no propriety or force in this argument, derivable from any scriptural facts. If Christ is a dependant being it must argue that there is not a proper and distinct personality existing between the Father and Son ;-or it must result that the Son is a created being. We pass from the consideration of the improbabilities of his being esteemed a derived, dependent, or created being, merely referring to our preceding obşervations; and pass to consider some passages of scripture which have embarrassed many minds.
The difficulties are derived from the expressa ions which dropped from the lips of Christ while he tabernacled in the flesh, and which are found recorded in the gospel of St. John. " The Son can do nothing of himself; but what he seeth the "Father do, that doth the Son. I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. My father is greater than 1."
It was a peculiar and most excellent trait, in the Saviour's life, and charaeter to exhibit, illustrate, and preserve in all its perfertions and ex
cellencies, the relation of Father and San, and be exemplify the distinct personality of the Father's paternity, and the Son's perfect respect and obe dience, as second personage of the triune God. And, the Father's relative precedence in reference to this relation with the Son, and still inculcating the oneness in worship, as in John, 5, verse 23, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;" inculcating also, their existing fellowship and oneness in the works of salvation, &c. In the same manner is the whole tenor of Christ's expressions; he distinguishes and characterizes himself, claiming a distinct per sonality, and yet claiming an equality and one ness in work and worship and in the office of Son, subordinate, though not inferior in nature, work and worship, to the Father.
We have elsewhere endeavoured to show, that if Jesus Christ possessed any of the Divine Nature, he possessed it fully and absolutely as the Father. A little reflection dissipates these difficulties, which opponents have raised, and may raise. Primitive Trinitarians, we think, always considered, that in this distinctive relation the characteristics of Father and of Son, are perfect; the Father as the fountain of Deity, the general term Father comprehending the whole God-head; the eternal Son, the second person of the Godhead, proceeding from it, in the work of Sorship. " It is proper, among mankind, that a son should be subordinate to his father, yea, subject in many respects, though of the same human nature; yea, though in no respect inferior in any natural qualification."
Doctor Clarke, we are very certain, labours under a mistaken in saying, that “the enemies of
Christ's divinity have always availed themselves of this incautious method of treating this subject.” Namely, the “ eternal Sonship.” We are of opinion, that the enemies of the eternal Sonship of Christ, have never brought their arguments to this exact spot, or centre, as the Doctor supposes. We are of opinion, that the first grand objection, which ever has, and ever will be brought, against the doctrine of the Trinity, and the proper Sonship of Jesus Christ is, that it seems to make at least two co-ordinate Gods. That is, two infinite and independent beings, sustaining one station and office. The next most prominent ground they have assumed, is, that it is impossible that the human nature of our Lord, could be so united to the divine nature, as to make but one enfire, or one person.
On these two points, the most cogent and powerful minded opponents, have risked the strength of their cause. We think the champions of both sides of this question, will acknowledge our correctness. And some of our sharp-sighted, doctrinal adversaries, have handled them with great power; and so advantageously, that they have driven numbers of our Trinitarian brethren into Sabellianism. And we have great fears, that many have fled in their polemic pride to that system, as to a refuge, and when followed and hardpressed by their opponents, they are driven to a greater extremity still. But if our ideas of the opposing systems are correct, we feel assured they have neither scripture, nor reason, nor the writings of the fathers to defend and sustain them, Except, it may be a few scraps from the fathers, which have straggled down from the ed century,
in the dark ages of Popery, in the times of scrig tural inhibition, in the night of Bible knowledge
The question has been, if Christ is not a de pendent being, are there not two co-ordinate Gods? We have already made some remarks, and considered some scriptural passages, whieb we think are of power to assist the mind, and which we find recorded in John, chapters 14, 15 16, and 17, and some of ancilliary purport, if chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10. It is our understanding that our Lord in his discourses, wishes us to un derstand, distinctly : Ist, That the Father and son possessed a distinctive personality. edly, That the Son in point of dignity of nature, was in ne sense inferior to the Father. 3dly, That the Fa: ther is never without the Son, nor the Son without the Father, that the Son is ever in the bosom of the Father. Even, when the Son was on the earth, the Father dwelt in the Son; and that they each of them had their station or office in the Godhead, and were in fellowship and unison in all their works, whether of creation, providence, or redemption,
We should examine these chapters with attention, and critical care; and, weigh these points with the temper of candour, in the balances of faith and reason, and we shall be enabled by grace to understand our Lord in his various conversations, with the Jews, and with his disciples; and to appreciate the doctrines and points we have suggested, and the observations we may deem it proper to make.
In our judgment, there is a delightful harmony and consistency, in the scriptural language and record. Our Lord says, “I can of myself do nothings," that is, “I ever diyell in the Father, and