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Noah Worcester.

Bible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of online

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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 4 of 19)
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by properly deriving his existence and natuic from God,
Will probably, by many, be pronounced a very great absur-
dity. And as, in my view, very much is depending on this
pomt, you v r ill suffer me to be particular in the examina-
tion. That the terms the SON of God, as applied to Christ,
do most naturallv denote that his existence and nature were
derived from GOD, will, it is believed, be granted by all ju-
dicious and impartial inquirers. And it does not discover
the greatest reverence for the Scriptures, nor the greatest
sense of our own fallibility, hastily to reject, as absurd, the
natural import of inspired language. If there be any
ground on which the hvpothesis may be pronounced absurd,
it must be found either in the works *^ the -word of God.

But what do we find in the works of God, by which it
may appear, that it is absurd to suppose that God has a SON
who has truly derived his existence and nature from the
Father ? In examining the works of God, we find reason,
to suppose that God has given existence to various tribes
of beings, with natures distinct from his own. And is it
not quite as difficult to conceive, that God should give ex-
istence to beings by proper creation, with nature distinct
from his own, as that he should give existence to a SON truly
deriving his nature from the Father ?

We also find, that God has endued the various tribes of
creatures with a power of procreation, by which they pro-
duce offspring in their own likeness. Why is it not as
possible that God should possess the power of producing a
SON in his own likeness, or with his own nature, as that he
should be able to endue his creatures with such a power ?
May it not, then, be presumed, that no shadow of evidence
cjui be produced from the wvrks of God, to invalidate the



3G On the veal Divinity and Glory ofCh risC.

hvpothesis that Christ, as the SON of God, possesses di-
vine nature by derived existence ?

What then saith the Scripture ? Wfe may, in reply to
this question, notice several things.

1. Dr. Hopkins has said, " The- Redeemer is the Son of
God in a peculiar and appropriated sense, and by which he
is distinguished from ev< ry other person in the universe."
The Doctor adds, u He is mentioned as the SON of God
more than an hundred times in the New Testament ; and
the Father of Jesus Christ the Son, is mentioned above two
hundred and twenty times."

The correctness of these statements is not doubted ; and
on the ground of thrm I mav sav, that, according to the
natural import of words, Jesus Christ is, in the New Testa-
ment, more than three hundred and t entv timrs mention-
ed as a DFRIVKD INTFLLIGENCF, an intelligence who has
property der ved his existence and nature from God. For
in contradistinction t > angels and men, and to all who may
be called Sons of God by creathn^ or adoption^ Jesus Christ
is definitively called THE SON of God.

2. It is to be observed, that several epithets are used as
with explicit design to prec'ude all mistake, and to give us
unequivocal evidence that Jesus Christ is the SON of God
in the most strict sense of the term. He is emphatically
called God's u OWN SON." And to denote th,t God has no
other Son in the sense in which Christ is his Son, he is call-
ed God's ONLY Son. And more fully to express the idea
that he, and he only, properly derived his existence and na-
t ** from God, he is called w the ONLY BEGOTTKN SON of
GOD," u the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the FATHKR."

I ^uldhere ask, whether it be possible to find terms
which would more clearly and more emphatically express
the very thing which I undertook to prove? If no further
evidence could be produced in favor of the hypothesis, it
would certainly require something very substantial and
positive to invalidate what has been already exhibited.
But additional evidence is vet to come. What has been
produced, is from the grncral and current language of the
JVew Testament. We may add,

3. It appears to have been one particular design of the
miracles which were wrought by Christ, to prove that he
was the SON of God ; and that, as the SON, was sent of the
FATHER iato the world.



On the real Divinity ana Glory cf Christ. S7.

Christ said to the Jews, "Ye sent unto John, and he
bare witness of the truth. But I have greater witness than
that of John: for the works which the Father hath given
me to finish, the same works which I do, bear witness of
me, that the Father hath sent me." John v. 33.... 36.

The account that the Jews sent unto John, and the tes- -
timony he gave, we have recorded in the first chapter of
the same Gospel. The testimony is this, u But he that
sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me,
Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and re-
maining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the
Holy Ghost. And I saw and bare record that this is the
Soi/of God."

This was the truth to which John testified ; but Christ
stated, that the works which he did were of greater weight
than the testimony of John. And it is observable, that, as
it was one design of his miracles to prove that he was the
SON of God, so this conviction was produced in the m>nds
of many upon seeing the miracles which he performed.
And though many of the Jews rejected this testimony, yet
reluctant devils were constrained to acknowledge his digni-
ty and power as the SON of God. \ - ..

4. Jesus Christ is the Faithful and True Witness,and he
repeatedly affirmed, " I am the So v of God :" and he also
abundantly affi: med that God was his FATHER.

I am not insensible, that, on th s ground, some have
supposed that Christ meant to affirm his self-existence, in-
dependence, and co-eternity with the Father. But surely
I can think of no words which would have been less calcu-
lated to impress such an idea on an unprejudiced mind.
And had it been his design to affirm his self-existence, and
at the same time to mislead the minds of his hearers, I know
not of any language which would have been more adapted
to such a purpose. Would any person of common dis-
cernment and common honesty ever think of asserting that
he is General Washington, or that he personally existed
as early as Genera Washington, by saying, I am the Sour
of General Washington, and General Washington is my
FATHER ? But if Christ meant to assert that he derived
his existence and his nature from God as a SON from a
FATHER, what language could have been more to his pur-
pose than that which he adopted ?

5. The awful display/ of Divine majesty and power
which were concomitants of the crucifixion of Christ, pro-



38 On the real Dhtnity and Glory of Christ.

dared a conviction in the minds of the Centurion and others
that Jesus was the SON ot God. " Now when the On*
turion, and they that were w th him, *wafeching Jesus, saw
the earth quake, and those things that were done, they
frared greatlv, saying, Truly this was the SON of GOD."
And according to the opinion of Saint Paul, he was u de-
clared to be the SON of GOD with power, according to the
spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."
Rom. i. 4.

6. That Jesus Christ is the SON of God, was a prin-
cipal articie of primitive Christian faith, and a principal
doctrine of apostolic preach i g.

Christ questioned his disciples thus, " Whom do men
say that I, the Son of m>n, am ? They said, Some say
thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jere-
mias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But
whom say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter answered and
said, Thou art the Christ, th- SON of the LIVING GOD."

Nathaniel, on becoming acquainted with Christ, said
unto him, u Rabbi, Thou art the SON of God."

When Christ questioned Martha respecting her faith in
him, she replied, " I believe that thou art the Christ, the
SON of God."

After the ascension, when the Eunuch manifested a de-
sire to be baptized, Philip answered, " If thou believest
with all thine heart, thou mayest." The Eunuch then ex-
hibited his confession of faith, " I believe that Jesus Christ
is the SON of God." And on the ground of this profession
he was baptized.

Saint Paul having been converted and commissioned for
the Gospel ministry, " straightway he preached Christ in
the Synagogues, that he is the SON of God."

And the same doctrine he abundantly inculcated in his
Epistles.

Dr. Hopkins has noticed, that the Apostle John " men-
tioned Christ as the SON of God, fifty times and the Fa-
ther of Jesus Christ the Son, more than one hundred and
thirty times," in his Gospel and Epistles. And this same
Apostle has spoken of faith in Christ, that he is the SON
of God, as though it were indeed of the highest importance.
" Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the SON of God,
God dwelleth in him, and he in God. He that believeth



n the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 39

on the SON 01 God, hath the witness in himself. Whoso-
ever denieth the SON, the same hath not the Father. Who
is he that overcometh the world, but he that belitveth that
Jesus Christ is the Srw of God ?

Here I would take the liberty to propose a few questions*
Is believing that Jesus Christ is a mere man or a mere crea-
ture, believing that he is the SON of God, God's owv *SV>v,
the ONLY B G^TTKV of the Father? Again, Is believing
that Jesus Christ ; s personally the .s^r,f-FX7STf .VT Goo* be-
lieving that he is truly the S u of God ? Does it not ap-
pear, that be ieving that Jesus Christ was the SON of God,
was the orthodox faith in the first age of Christianity ? But
is this the faith of those who call themselves the orthodox
at the present day ?

To believe that Christ impersonally the self-existent God*
and to believe that Christ is truly the S/^N OF G< L>, are, in
my view, ver\ distinct things ; and I cannot but be amaz-
ed that ideas so perfectly distinct should ever have been
admitted as one and the same.

7. The self-existent and SUPREME MAJESTY, by an
audible voice from Heaven, did repeatedly confirm the
truth which I have aimed to support.

u And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straight-
way out of the water : and lo, the Heavens were opened
unto him, and he saw tine Spirit of God descending like a
dove, and lighting upon him : and lo ! a voice from Heaven,
saying, This is MY BELOVED SON, in whom I am well
pleased."

Again, at the time of the transfiguration, " Behold, a
br ght cloud overshadowed them ; and, behold, a voice
out of the cloud, which said, This is MY BELOVED SON, in
whom I am well pleased ; hear ye him."

Is it possible, Sir, that any man can attend for a moment
to the natural import of these words from Heaven, and
then believe that God meant to be understood as saying,
This Person, who has been baptized, and transfigured, is
the self-existent God, co-eternal with myself, and the self-
same Being ?

8. The avowed design of St. John, in writing the his*-
tory of Jesus Christ, is a proof that in his view Jesus was
truly the SON of God. At the close of the 20th chapter,
he says, 4 * And many other signs truly did Jesus in the
presence of his disciples, which are not written in this



40 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

book. But these are written that ye MIGHT BELIEVE that
Jesns is the CHRIST, the SON of GOD ; and that believing,
ye might have life through his name.''

It has often been supposed, and urged, that John wrote
his Gospel at the request of the Bishops of Asia, in sup-
port of the Divinity of Christ, and in opposition to the her-
esy of Cerinthus, and the Ebionites, who held, that Christ
was a mere man. This may be verv true ; but it does not
hence follow, that John wrote in support of your views of
the Divinity of Christ ; nor that your sentiments accord
with his. And since John has himself told us his object
in writing, we have no occasion to resoit to the supposi-
tion of others to determine the point. And he tells us, in
the most unequivocal manner, that his object in writing
was, that his readers might believe that Jews is the Christ,
the So\ of God. And it Jesus Christ was the SON of God
in the proper sense of the terms, he was truly a DIVINE
PrusoN,in opposition to the opinions of Ebion and Cerin-
thus.

You w'll probably urge, that in the verv first verse of
his Gospel, John says, " The Word was God." This is
true ; and it is also true, that in the same verse, and in
the next, he savs, u The Word was WITH God." The
GOD whom the Word was rvith, was doubt'ess one God;
and unless e are to suppose that John meant to affirm a
plura'itv of self-existent Gods, he did not mean to affirm
that the WORD was God in a sense which implied personal
sei (-existence. Besides, the title, the WORD, or the WORD
of GOD, probablv denotes that the SON was the MKDIUM:
of Divine manifestation ; and hence we may easily inter,
that it was on the ground of a C^NSTITU^I-D CHAR ^CTER that
the Son is called God. John proceeds to sav, that all
things were made by him ; and Paul tells us how, th.tt GOD
" created all things BY Ji-.sus CHRIST."

In some future Letters, I shall more particularly show in
what sense Christ is ca l led God. But 1 may here observe,
that the general current of John's Gospel corresponds with
what ht. savs was his object in writing, viz. " That ye might
BELIEVE that Jesus is the CHRIST, the SON of God ; and
that believing, ye might have life through his name.''

In my next Letter, you may expect still further evidencr
that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.



tin the real Divinity and Glory of Christ* 41

LETTER II.

Additional Evidence that Christ is truly the SON of God*

REV. SIR,

AS introductory to the arguments which I am about to
urge, I would suggest to your mind the following suppo-
sitions.

1. Suppose that God, in giving the ten commandments
on tables of stone, instead of writing the word sabbath-day
in the fourth commandment, had left a blank ; and in giv-
ing the fifth, he left a blank instead of writing the terms
father and mother.

2. Suppose he wrote a second time, and filled up those
blanks with characters or words which had never before
been seen or heard of by men.

3. Suppose he wrote a third time, and instead of leav-
ing blaks for those words, or filling them with unknown
characters or terms, he, for sabbath-day, wrote birth-day;
and instead of father and mother, wrote son and daughter :
suppose also, that these words had never been understood
by men to mean any thing different from their common ac-
ceptation at the present day*

Permit me now to ask, whether either of these modes of
writing those commands could be considered as a revela-
tion of the Divine Will ? And would not the mode of
Writing birth-day for sabbath-day, and son and daughter
for father and mother, be as likely to mislead the minds of
men, as writing in unknown characters, or even as leaving;
blank spaces to be filled up by conjecture ?

But wnat, you may ask, is the object of these extraordi-
nary statements ? My object, Sir, is this, to evince, that
in his communications to us, God must make use of lan-
guage in a sense which agrees with some analogy, or his
communications can be of no use to mankind, any more
than unknown characters, or blanks to be filled by conjee*
ture.

In a connexion as deeply interesting as that of giving the
law, God has made use of the terms the Son oj God, MY
SoN) GOD'S OWN SON, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of God. He
has represented his love to us as being exceedingly great,

F



43 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ*

on the following ground, " God so loved the world, that he
gave his ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believeth in
him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." u He
that spared not his OWN SON, but delivered him up for us
all."

Surh, you know, is the common representation in the
New Testament. And being well acquainted with the
natural import of the terms an OWN SON, an ONLY BKGOT-
Ti N SON ; and having an idea of the love of a father to an
oivn and only son ; the scriptural representations of the
love of God towards us become deeply interesting and af-
fecting. .

But the Athanasian theory represents the SON of God as
personally the self-existent God, and the very SAMK BUNG
of whom he is abundantly declared to be the SON. And
on this ground, the term SON is used in a sense foreign to
every analogy with which the human mind is acquainted;
as foreign as it would be to use birth-day .'or soft bath- day r
or son and daughter for father and mother. On this ground,
the representations of (rod's love, and the scheme of salva-
tion, are involved in unintt I'igiMe metaphor ; and we need
an inspired Daniel to interpret the import of the term SON,
as much as llelshazzar did to interpret the enigmatical
hand-writing on the wall. And until this interpretation be
given, we have no definite ground on which to estimate the
love of God iu the atonement made for the sins of the
world.

What has been now exhibited, is viewed as a very
weighty argument against your theory, and ir. favor of the
hypothesis that Jesus Christ is truly the SON of God. But
there is another argument which, if possible, is still more
weighty, to which we may now attend.

You cannot be insensible, that it is plainlv and abundant-
ly represented in the Scriptures, that the SON of God did
really and personally suffer and die for us. And that on,
this ground, both the love of God and the love of his Sou-
are represented as having been manifested in a very extra-
ordinary manner. And if the SON of God be truly the SON
of God, a derived intelligence, these representations may
be strictly and affectingly true. For on this hypothesis,,
the SON of God may be the same intelligent Being as the
soul of the Man Christ Jesus who suffered on the cross*



On the real Divinity and Glory \of 'Christ. 43

But your theory will not, I suspe ct, he found to admit,
or support, anv thing more than the shadow of the suffering
and death of the <$V>\ OF OD.

Writers and preacheis on your side of the question, do,
indeed, often speak of the ab \sement, the sufferings, and
death, of the Sow of God, as though they believed these
things to he affecting realities. lint, after all, what is the
amount of these representations, upon your hypothesis ?
You do not conceive tlut the SON of God hecame united
to flesh and Wood as the soul of Jesus Christ. So far front
this, you suppose the SON OF (ion was personally the self-
existent God , and instead of beiom ng the soul of a human
body, you suppose he bream** im su-rionsly united to a
proper Man, who, as distinct from thr Son of God, had a
true body and reason-able soul. And I think, Sir, it will
be found, that on thi* Mun vour theory lays the iniquities
of us ail ; that this J/;w, and not the SON of (rod, en-
dured the stripes by v\ hi< h we have healing. For while
you maintain that the SON was personally the only liv-
ing and triif God, \ouvery consistently affirm that " he
did not suffer in the least in h s Divine nature, but
altogether in his human nature." And what is this but af-
firming that he d d not suffer at a'1 as thr SON OF GoD, but
only the Man yesus suffered, to whom the Son wa^united?
As, on the Athanasian hypothesis, the Man Christ Jesus
and the human nature are the same, so the Son or self-ex-
istent God and the Divine nature ot Christ are the same*
You suppose the SON as incapable of suffering as the Fa-
ther, and he did not in reality personally suffer on the
cross any more than the Father did ; nor any more than
either of them suffered while Cranmer was burning at the
stake. How then does it appear, that u God SPARKD NOT
HIS OWN SON" ?

You will probably plead, that the Man Jesus was united
to the Person of the Son of God, and that Person suffered
In his human nature. But, Sir, as you predicate person-
ality on the SON or DIVINE NATURE, and do not allow per-
sonality to the human nature, it will, I suspect, be difficult
for you to prove that any Per von suffered on the cross :
for the sufferings fell simply on a nature to which you do
not allow personality. ' As, in your view, the SON was the
self-existent God, and could not suffer in his Divine nature,
H cbuld not suffer in any nature. The man was only an



44 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

appendage to his Person, mysteriously connected ; and yet
so far was the union from being very intimate or essential,
that the appendage or the Mm mightj suffer the severest
agonies, and the SON or RI AL PERSON be at the same time
In a state of infinite felicity.

Abraham's offering his son Isaac, has long been consid-
ered as typical of the conduct of God in giving his Son to
die for us. Suppose we should add to the scriptural ac-
count the following ideas That Abraham knew before-
hand that his son was incapable of suffering, and that all
the sufferings would fall on another man, to whom his son
was mysteriously united ; and that Isaac also understood
the matter in the same light when he consented to be bound
and laid upon the altar. Would not this additional account,
if believed, depreciate, in our estimation, the conduct of
Abraham, and Isaac at the rate of ninety-nine per cent. ?
This illustration may serve to show how much your
hypothesis, when understood, tends to lower down our
ideas of the greatness of the love of God in giving his SON
to die for us ; and also the love and submission of the Son
in consenting to make his life an offering for our sin. I
would, however, by no means intimate, that you, and
others, view the love of God in this depreciated light.
For I think it probable that it is with you, as I am sensi-
ble it was with myself the plain r- presentations of Scrip-
ture, by the help of analogy, superseded the force of
theory.

It has been, and I think justly, supposed, that the dignity
of the SON of God gave value to the sufferings of the cross.
And if we consider the SON of God to be what his title
imports, a derived Intelligence of Divine origin and dig-
nity, the one by whom God created the world, by whom
or in whom he appeared to the ancient Patriarchs, by
whom he conducted the children of Israel from Egypt
to Canaan ; if we consider this se f-samc Intelligence
personally and really suffering the death of the cross^
we may perceive something, in view of u hich we may
well exclaim, " Behold what manner of love !"

But if the sufferings of the cross did not really fall on
that very SON, who had sustained pre -existent glory in the
u FORM OF GOD," but on a man who had existed less than
forty years, who had a^ ted in public character not more
than four or five ; how small the degree of condescension on
the part of the suffer er^ how small the display of the love of



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 4j

God, and of what diminished value are the sufferings of the
cross ! In the Assembly's Catechism we are taught, that
".Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that
in a low condition, being made under the law ; undergoing
the miseries of this life, the wrath of GoJ, and the cursed
death of the cross ; in being buried, and continuing under
the power of death for a time."

Yet this same Catechism teaches us to be'ieve, that Je-
sus Christ was personally co-eternal with the Father, and
the self-existent God. I will tht-n ask, whether there be
one particular, of what is said respecting the humiliation of
Christ, which cm possibly be true? Was the self-existent
God ever born ? Was he ever in a low condition ? Was
he ever made under the law ? Did he ever suffer the
wrath of God, or the cursed death of che cross ? Was
God ever buried ? If the self-existent God has not passed
through such scenes, then the SON of God has not, accord*
ing to your doctrine respecting the Son. Therefore, ac-
cording to your theory, all the abasement* which can he
supported, faLs on the Man to which the Son was united :
And this Man you suppose had no existence until he was
conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary ; of course, he
had no glory to leave, or lay aside, when he came into the
world. As he never had been rich, it was impossible for
him to become poor for our sakes. He had no opportuni-
ty to say, " Lo, I come to do thy will, O God ;" and so far
as his humiliation consisted in ^ being born, and that in a
low condition," there was nothing voluntary in it ; and it
could be no evidence of any love or condescension in
him.

To make out your theory of the humiliation and abase-
ment of the Son of God, you have to take into view two
distinct intelligent Beings ; one of which you affirm to be
the self-existent God, and the other a proper Man. This
God, or Son of God, you find had been in a state of pre-


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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 4 of 19)