« VorigeDoorgaan »
the pure Word of God and suffering them to be led thereby into the simple truth of this relation, will force themselves, and others too if they can, to imagine a seniority by decree independent of birth in this case; and that the Subject was only begotten before all worlds, because his Father put him before in his degrees of honour, as Israel might have put Ephraim before Manasseh (Gen. xlviii. 20) for example; which was no acknowledgment of seniority, as Israel observed (Ib. 19). And, admitting the Subject, who was begotten before all worlds, and born in the world to have been literally born first of all that are born of God, as well as begotten first and ordained to be first,--the Top of the chosen race in birth as well as degree, being himself when there was no other son, which of course would make him Only for the time, or until there was another; yet even this, though a great and striking peculiarity beyond all doubt, would not constitute so wide a distinction alone as one should expect in the case. For as Ephraim and Manasseh were accounted sons by Israel as much as Reuben and Simeon, his two first-born, so might others be accounted sons of God by the Father as much as his only Son Jesus Christ. Wherefore neither in this more than in any other single respect that has yet been mentioned will the Subject's peculiarity, and consequent superiority, appear to be much beyond that which might be predicted of other sons of God that are mentioned in Scripture (Gen. vi. 2; Job i. 6; xxxviii. 7), and also of our own common ancestor according to the Gospel (Luke iii. 38): which would make it appear as if we wanted some new circumstance and likewise strange beyond any that has yet been mentioned, to cause and constitute so striking a peculiarity; the cause of this peculiarity being all one with its consistence.
=2, Therefore passing now from a negative to a positive demonstration it may be gratifying to observe that we have indeed such a new and strange circumstance, and more than one to refer to; as for example,
* 1, In the Word of God, by which every thing is what it is; being so peculiar in every instance, that it will never apply to more than one. So the word or Passage rather, describing Peter, i. e. Peter's mode or description, will apply to no other person exactly, no more will that of James or John : for hereby every one is actually made as well as described to be the individual that he is, and the only one so being or made. Of which word it may suffice to say at present, that the same coming from God is not a transient act, as with men; but a standing existence, coeval in every case with its Subject, being here the only Son of God. Accordingly St. Peter tells us; that “ by the Word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water. Whereby the world that then was being overflowed with water perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men ” (Pet. II. ij. 5, 6, 7.)-For, as the same Apostle observes “ The Word of the Lord (i. e. peculiar) endureth for ever” (Pet. I. i. 25); being the same which is here spoken of, and which is described by St. John as with God in the beginning. And every thing is by the Word, the Word itself not excepted; which is immediately of God, and God (John i. 1): as he says, “ I will preach the law, whereof the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. ii. 7). And as it is with the peculiarity of a person, where every form and feature helps to compose such peculiarity, so it will be here with the peculiarity of the Only Son; every particular of the Word being a distinct feature in his existence, and his existence entirely formed or composed of such features; of which some that signified negatively apart may signify affirmatively together, and others with them each in its proportion; as for example
* 2, That by the Word of God and consisting in that Word for his immediate principle, or beginning,-as a man might in earth, or an angel in Spirit, the Subject is the immediate Son of God: so that admitting him to be, not the only legitimate son of his Father, as Isaac was of Abraham, he will yet, technically speaking, be THE ONLY SON IN HIS MEDIUM, ORDER, OR DEGREE ; or speaking more technically, and humanly enough, of that which is above human art and knowledge, he will be THE ONLY SUBJECTIVE SON.
*3, He is also the only Son mediately and acquisitively as well as subjectively and immediately; and that by the same Word saying in this behalf “UNTO US a child is born, unto us a Son is given," &c. (Isai. ix. 6): that is, given like another Isaac, and in a more important respect than legitimacy; seeing that through him we derive a participation of the divine nature, as Israel derives that of Abraham through Isaac; and to him also owe the transmission, as well as derivation of our eternal inheritance. Therefore when St. Paul speaks of Children and Heirs, "Heirs of God and Joint Heirs with Christ” as aforesaid, he evidently intimates that we are such through as well as with him. If moreover, God says, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called " (Gen. xxi. 12), we also read in the Word of God of his own Son, “whom he hath appointed Heir of all things (Heb. i. 2). From which it will appear, that while the Subject had a distant relation to God in common with the first mentioned children of God, he had also an immediate relation, like Isaac, peculiar to himself.
*4, Another circumstance coincident with, or rather a feature in this instance of peculiarity resulting from his immediate birth aforesaid is, that the Subject was not born as usual of God from the world, but of God into the world ; and not casually or indiscriminately either, but by promise, like Isaac, and as the end of a wonderful dispensation affecting, if not the whole world, yet the whole in which mankind are concerned. “For God, who at sundry times and in divers maniers spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken
unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed Heir of all things, by whom also HE MADE THE WORLDS” (Ib. i. 2). His private word or description was that of one whom the Father bad sanctified and sent into the world: not of one merely to whom the Word of God came, or one who is oply called a son of God, and as it were by courtesy (John x. 36): but of one, whose every constituent-intellectual, spiritual, and material, was holy or sanctified from the beginning before ever they came together meeting in one holy subject, combination or "thing” (Luke i. 35), as it is called, at his mortal conception. And if sinful creatures when they are “washed and sanctified by the Spirit of our God” (Cor. I. vi. 11) may thenceforward deserve to be called the sons of God, much morė, and very peculiarly so, may be who came sanctified, or a Son of God, into the world. He was an immediate transcript or radiance of the Father's glory and “the express Image of his person” (Heb. i. 3): while they who are born from man to God will be but secondary transcripts: images of the image, as this is of God: he being born originally from God to man; as they, the other sons of whom we read, are either not born to man at all, or else from man to God. And while we are on the subject of integrity of birth, it may be mentioned,
* 5, As another material difference and ground of peculiarity in the same line among other particulars of the divine Word, that the birth of a son of God being twofold or in two respects, namely by the Word of God and by the Spirit of God, so that "the whole family in Heaven and earth, which is named from him” (Eph. iii. 15), will be
those unto whom the Word of God came,” or " those who are led by the Spirit of God” (Rom. viii. 14), the Son by whom one comes and the other is given, considering his mediation, will be quite another son from a subject of either birth or of both. The same,
*6, With regard to the criterion of Righteousness; if it may be said that all are not equally sons of God, therefore
not equally righteous; so, reversing the proposition we may say, that all are not equally righteous, therefore not equally sons of God. For they who are first born in sin will ever be far from righteousness, as far as he who is born in righteousness will ever be from actual sin. This may be what St. Paul alludes to when he says, “It pleased (meaning the Father most likely) that in him should all fulness dwell" (Col. i. 19); and what is also alluded to in many other places, as by the Son himself according to St. John in this, “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John iii. 34). Which is more than can be said for any even of our poor constituents, the same being all dealt out to us by measure, as before observed.
*7, Moreover in the course of birth or descent, we also find children frequently who have but little of their parent's virtue, like “ Judas Iscariot, Simon's son,” for example, who was as remarkable for treachery, as his father for fidelity-derogating considerably from their birth; and being in relation to those who preceded them as it were but half born, or it may be, bred either, notwithstanding the richness of their stock, the expense of education, and perhaps every other possible encouragement. And the same may
also be found by some who are born of God and degenerate: but that it could not of the only Son, of whose “ fulness all we have received and grace for grace” (John i. 16): such fulness being in fact divinity itself; so that among other distinctions we may well assign him this, and call it a fulness of parentage. Then,
*8, Forthe eighth, there is another peculiarity founded on the very essence of the Word, which might be alone sufficient to qualify this one with the title of Only Son; namely, as being born or affiliated, by another Word. For when Adam became the Son of God, it was by this, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. i. 26): but when the Subject, by this, “Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. ii. 7); being peculiar in