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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 5 of 19)
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existent dignity and glory ; and he, as you suppose, was
united mysteriously to a Man ; this Man was born in low
circumstances, endured the m series of this life, and suf-
fered death on the cross ; and by virtue of his union to
the Son of God, he was enabled to bear a vastly greater
weight of suffering than he could otherwise have endured.

But, Sir, is this all that is intended by God's SPARING
NOT ms OWN SON ? Is this the way in which the SON of



45 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

God BARE our sins in his OWN BODY on the tree ? What,
Sir, was the real condition of the SON of God,the self-exist-
ent God, from the birth of the Man Jfsus till this Man
rose again from the dead ? Accord ng to your theory, the
SON of God, during the whole of that period, was in a state
of infinite glory and felicity ; and as incapahle of suffering
the agonies of death, as the Father. How then can it bz
true, that " Though a Sov, yet learned he obedience by
things which HE SUFFERFD ?" As it respects the real char-
acter of the SUFFERING SAVIOR, what is your theory bet*
ter than Socinianism enveloped in mystery ?



LETTER HI-

No Absurdity in the Hypothesis that Christ is truly the So$

of God.

REV. SIR,

WH AT has been exhibited in the preceding Letters,
it is hoped, will be sufficient to satisfy impartial minds that
the Scriptures afford abundant evidence that Jesus Christ
is truly the SON of God. But a contrary belief has been
so long and so generally prevalent, that it may be necessary
to say something farther on the subject, with a view to
shoiv that the natural import of the terms the SON OF GOD,
or God's OWN SON, implies no contradiction or absurdity.

That God is a self- existent Being, is acknowledged by
all Christians ; and I shall freely admit, that it is impossi-
ble with God to beget or produce a SELF-EXISTENT SON.
But what have we to do with the mode of God's existence,
in determining whether it be possible with him to produce
a Son ? What have we to do with the mode of Adam's ex-
istence, in determining whether Seth could be his Sen ?
Respecting Adam, it is said, "The Lord God formed
man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nos-
trils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." And
probably Adam was a man in size or stature at his first ex-
istence. Could not Seth be the son of Adam, unless the
mode of his haying existence was the same with Adam's i



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 47

When Adam was in existence, he had a nature by which
he was distinguished from God and from Angels. Such a
nature Seth derived from Adam. Self-existence may be
esst ntial to the Divine nature in God, and proper creation
might be essential to the human nature in Adam. Aid as
human nature in Seih might be derived from the created na-
ture of Ad urn, why mav it not be true that Divine nature m
the SON was derived tn>m the selfrexiatent nature of GOD ?

We often speak of Divine nature, angelic nature,&nd hu-
ynan nature ; but w hat do we know of either, excepting
certain proptrties, attributes, or qualities? Are we not
unable to tell \% hat is the radical difference between an An-
gel and a human soul ? Yet we believe there is some rad-
ical distinction. So we may be, unable to ascertain the
radical distinction between the Divine nature, and human
nature, exclusive of the different modes of existence.
Yet, aside from those attributes which simply reject
modes of existence, there may be some radical difference
between those naturvs. If we suppose this diversity of
natures to result from the diversity of attributes or qualities
united, yet there may be some property, attribute, or qual-
ity, by which one nature is distinguished from another^
and the distinguishing property of nature may be wholly un-
known to us.

Are we not, Sir, too ignorant of the nature of GOD, to
pronounce that there is nothing in his nature which may be
properly derived in the existence of an OWN SON ? It may
not be necessary that every attribute of Deity should be
communicable or derivable in order that he may have an
OWN SON. Among the children of men, it is not necessa-
ry to the existence or the idea of a son, that he should pos-
sess all the attributes, properties, or qualities of his father*
Nor is it necessary that he should possess no other attri-
butes but such as were possessed by his father. Among
the seventy sons of Gideon, perhaps, there were no two
that perfectly resembled each other in their attributes, prop-
erties, or qualities ; and probably no one who was the per-
fect likeness of his father. So Jesus Christ may have tru-
ly derived his existence and nature from God, and yet not
possess every attribute of the Father.

Jesus Christ was the Son of David, according to the flesh ;
yet we believe his body was not produced by ordinary
generation.; but as Mary was of the seed of David, and as



43 On the real Divinity and Glory of Clirist.

the body of Christ was derived from her, Christ is Called
David's Son. Had he not properly derived anv properties
from David, he could not with propriety he called the Son
of David. And if his spirit or soul had not been as prop-
erly derived from God, as his body was from David, it is
difficult to see why he should be called the SON OF GOD, or
God's OWN and ONLY S N.

It has been said by a rr spectable writer, that " it is total-
ly incon eivable that a derived, dependent nature, should
really possess any of those Divine perfections which es-
sentially belong to an underived, independent, self-existent
Being."

H d the word exclusively been used instead of the word
a essentially" the observation would have been unexcep-
tionable. Self-existence and independence belong to God, .
not only u essentially" but exclusively. But knowledge*
power, and holiness, are essential attributes in God, and yet
knowledge, power, and holiness, may be communicated,
not only to a derived but to a created intelligence. God
may, indeed, possess these attr butes in an unlimited ex-
tent, while in other beings they may be limitt d ; but these*
attributes may be of the same nature in men that they are
in God.

That God does communicate knowledge, power, and ho-
liness, will, it is believed, be granted by most Christians.
Nor may we set any limits to the di-gree in which they
may be communicated, unless we may limit the Divine
Power of communication.

However. I have no occasion to maintain that Christ didj
with his existence as a SON, derive any attribute of Deity
in the extent in which it is possessed bv God* Had he
been personally self- sufficient and all-sufficient, he would
have had no occasion for God's giving him the Spirit with-
out measure. He might, with his existence, derive so much
of the Divine nature as to be truly the SON of God ; and
yet he might be the ALMIGHTY, and the SEARCHER OF
HEARTS, by the indwelling ot the Father, or the Jullness of
the Godhead.

When men are renewed in the temper of their minds,
they are said to be u born of God," to have the image of
God on their hearts ; and on this ground they are denomi-
nated Sons of God. For that which is begotten, or produ-
ced, in them, is truly of a Divine nature. It is that holiness



On the real tJvomlty and Glory of Christ. 49

bit" heart which is the glory of the Divine character. There
is nothing more essential, or more excel ; ent, in God, than
holiness ; this we see may be derived as the attribute of a
dependent being. And this holiness is precisely of the ,
same nature in men that it is in God. Its nature is not
changed by being derived or communicated. As that
which is born of the flesh is flesh, so that which is born of
the spirit is spirit it is of the same holy nature as the
spirit by which it is produced.

Will it be denied, that holiness is the excellence of all ex-
cellences in the Div ne existence and character ? And if
that which is essential to the Divine existence may be com-
municated or produced as the attribute of a dependent
agent, by what principles of revelation, or philosophy, can
it be affirmed, that it is impossible with God to produce
an intelligent existence from his own nature ? If God,
from his own nature, may produce his moral image, why
may he not produce his natural image ? And why may
not Jesus Christ be as truly the "IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE
GOD," as Setb was the likeness of Adam ?

Holiness *k as self-existent in God, as any attribute of
the Divine nature ; yet holiness may be produced as the
attribute of a dependent agent. And if one attribute, which
is self-existent in Deity, may be produced or derived, as
the attribute of a dependent agent, without any change in
its nature, what evidence can we have that other attributes,
properties^ or qualities, which are self-existent in God,
may not be properly derived ? Yea, by what evidence can
it be made to appear, that all the radical and essential prin-
ciples or properties of intelligent existence^ may not have
been properly derived from the Divine nature in the per-
son of GOD'S OWN SON ?

From the circumstance, that holiness is of the same na-
ture in angels and men that it is in God, we may easily
discern that the term self -existence ought not to be used as
expressive of the nature of Divine attributes, but only to
express the mode of their existence. And the same may
be said of the terms eternity, independence, and infinity.
In God, holiness is self-existent, eternal, independent, and
infinite* But considered as the attribute of a dependent,,
created agent, an angel or a man, neither of these epithets
can be applied. Yet holiness may be of the same nature
in men, in angels, and in God* Why may not the same
G



50 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

be true respecting other attributes or qualities of the Di-
vine nature ?

Same additional light may possibly be obtained, by at-
tending to the idea of supernatural or superhuman powers,
with which God, at some times, endued human beings.
Sampson, at some seasons, was weak like another man ;
but when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he was
able to perform prodigies. This supernatural strength, it
appears, was immediately derived from God. Yet while
Sampson possessed this strength, it was tru y HIS strength ;
and he was no more dependent on God for the strength by
which he x performed the wonderful things recorded of him,
than I am for the strength by which I move my pen.

The prophets were endued with supernatural foreknowl-
edge, by which they were enabled to unfold the volume of
futurity, and predict events not only hundreds but thousands
of years before the time in which the predictions were to
be fulfilled.

By a baptism of the same Spirit, the apostles were in-
stantaneously endued, and enabled to speak in foreign lan-
guages which they had never studied.

These supernatural powers were but occasional properties
or attributes of the several persons who possessed them.
But while they were possessed, they were personal proper-
ties or attributes. Those persons were truly endued -with
power from on high. The prophets foresaw as the Spirit
gave them foreknowledge ; and the apostles spake as the
Spirit gave them utterance. This Spirit was the Spirit of
God ; and when it was given in an extraordinary manner,,
men were enabled to do extraordinary things. When men
have been thus endued, they have possessed extraordinary
portions of Divine sufficiency ; and these portions of suf-
ficiency, it appears, they possessed by a communication of
Divine fulness. Nor is there any evidence that God might
not, if he pleased, endue every individual of the human
race with the strength of Sampson, the foreknowledge of
Daniel, and th gift of speaking all hitman languages : and
these, if he pleased, might be continued as permanent at-
tributes of character.

From what has been exhibited, it is pretty evident, that
created intelligences may, by the pleasure of God, possess
holiness, knowledge, and power, which are truly of a Di-
vine nature. May we not properly say, that Sampson



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 51

possessed an extraordinary measure of Divine power, and
that the prophets and apostles possessed an extraordinary
measure of Divine knowledge ; and that all holy beings do
partake of that attribute which is the glry of the Divine
nature ?

If the attributes of holiness, knowledge, and power, may
be properly communicated from God to dependent agents,
and in such a manner as to become personal properties or
attributes of these agents, what properties of intelligent ex-
istence may not be properly derived from Deity, as a stream
from a fountain, or as a SON from a FATHER $

The communication of these atti ibutes, from a self-exist-
ent to a derived agent, seems to imply something distinct
from these attributes as the BEING who is the recipient of
these communications. But what that is which constitutes
BEING, distinct from such properties or attributes, is per-
haps beyond the reach of mortal discernment. I have not,
however, made this remark with a view to deny the exist-
ence of BEING, as distinct from all we know of attributes
or propertits. The language we use, and the language of
the Bible, naturally imply a recipient or receiver of Divine
communications ; and that BEING does imply something
more than all we know of properties, attributes, or quali-
ties. If any thing be communicated from one agent to
another, there must be an agent or capacity to receive such
communications.

But if, from his own self-existent nature, or fulness,
God may communicate the attributes of knowledge, power,
and holiness, to created intelligences, so that they shall
possess, in measure, these attributes as derived excellences,
what evidence can be found to invalidate the hypothesis
that the existence of the SON of God was properly derived
from the Divine nature ?

Angels and saints are called sons of God ; yet Christ is
God's OWN and ONLY SON, the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Fa
ther. The primary and radical distinction may possibly
be this : angels and saints, as created intelligences, may
derive from the Divine nature some attributes or properties.;
while God's OWN SON may derive not only some attributes,
but his very Being or Existence, from the Divine nature.

Some may imagine, that I have labored hard, in this in-
vestigation, to support a self-invented theory. But this is
not the case ; I have bcea laboring t-j support the primitive



$2 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

Christian faith, that Jesus Christ is TRULY THE Sox OF
GOD, God's OWN and ONLY Sox ; and tp rescue the plain,
abundant, and emphatical language of Scripture, from the
strong prepossessions of my fellow Christians.

Dr. Spring sitys, " The Scriptures were inspired, to in-
struct common readers, by using words according to their
common acceptation, and not to confound them by an abuse
of language."*

Had the principle advanced in this excellent remark been
understood and duly regarded, I should have had no oc-
casion for a labored discussion to prove that Jesus Christ
is truly the SON of God. But the plain meaning of the terms
has been so involved in the labyrinth of controversy, and
the mists of prepossession, that it has required some forti-
tude to assert, and some labor to prove, that the concurrent
testimony of GOD, of CHRIST, and the APOSTLES, is to
be regarded as a correct expression of the truth. Yea, I
have been laboring to prove, that these Witnesses used
" words according to their common acceptation," and that
they did not mean "to confound us by an abuse oj language"

Had the plain and natural import of language been here-
tofore duly regarded, an attempt to prove that Christ is
truly the SON of God, would have been as needless, as an
attempt to prove that Isaac was truly the son of Abraham.

POSTSCRIPT.

THERE are some who predicate the Sonship of Christ
simply on the ground stated by the Angel to Mary, " The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
Highest shaU overshadow thee : therefore that holy thing
which shall be born of thee, shall be called the SON of God."

That this text contains a reason why Christ, in his in-
carnate state, should be called the Son of God, I will not
deny ; and if I were in the habit of believing that the soul
or spirit of Christ had no pre-existence, I should readily
admit this as the only ground on which he is called the
Son of God. But even on such an ' hypothes s, nothing
could be made to appear against the supposition that his
existence was truly derived from God, in a sense by which
he is distinguished from every other intelligent being.
But I as fully believe that the Son of God, as an intelligent



Sermon on the Self-existence of Chritf.



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 53

Being, existed before the world, as I believe that he now
exists.

Some will probably object, that it is unaccountable and
inconceivable how God should have a Son. But you, Sir,
I trust,will not make the incomprehensibleness of the mode
of Divine operation an objection to the theory. For this
hypothesis is far more consistent with all we do know, than
the supposition of THREE infinite Persons in ONE intelligent
BEING. The hypothesis which I have proposed contra-
dicts nothing which vr&-know of PERSON, of BEING, or of
GOD. It is doubtless repugnant to what some men have
thought ; but it may be presumed that it is not repugn ant to
what is known by any man. Nor does the hypothesis im-
ply any thing more inconceivable, unaccountable, or incom-
prehensible, than what is implied in the existence of every
other intelligent being in the universe. How God exists
without any cause, and how he could give existence to an-
gels, or to men, are as perfectly inconce vable to us, as how
he could give existence to an OWN SON. And I may ask
the objector, whether it be more inconceivable to us how
God could have an OWN SON, than it is to conceive how or
"why such a thing should be impossible with HIM ? If we
are to draw our conclusions from all we know of God by
his works and by his word, we have surely as much ground
to say that such a thing is possible, as we have to say it is
impossible*



LETTER IV.

The Divine Dignity of the SON of God.
REV. SIR,

WHATEVER may be the apprehensions of others,
respecting my attempt to prove that Jesus Christ is truly
the SON of God, you may be assured, Sir, that it has been
no part of my object to degrade his character. If it did not
seem a " light thing" to David to be a "King's son-in-law"
it surely ought not to be viewed by us degrading to Christ,
to consider him as GOD'S OWN AND ONLY SON. And I shall
now attempt to show,

That the Son of God is truly a Person of Divine Dignity*



S4> On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

No principle, perhaps, has been more universally ad-
mitted, than this, that a son derives dignity from illustrious
parentage.

The Jews, to whom Christ made his appearance in the
flesh, were well acquainted with this principle ; and though
many generations had intervened, they still gloried in the
idea that they were the descendants of the illustrious Pa-
triarch Abraham.

There is, perhaps, no nation, whether barbarous, civil-
ized, or christianized, in which the principle is not admit-
ted. The sons of Emperors, Kings, and Noblemen, are
considered as deriving dignity from their respective fa-
thers. And the derived dignity of each is according to the
acknowledged dignity of his father. But more especially
is the Jirst-born or only son of a King, or Emperor, con-
sidered as deriving royal or imperial dignity by royal or
imperial descent. It is indeed true, that a son of the most
renowned and worthy King may, by vicious or disobedient
conduct, forfeit his derived d'gnity, and subject himself to
the displeasure of his father, and to general infamy ; but
this forms no ground of objection to the principle of deriv-
ed dignity. And on the same principle that a worthy son
of a worthy King derives royal dignity, the Son of God
derives Divine dignity. And on the same principle that
the most worthy son of the most renowned King derives
higher dignity than the son of a common peasant, the de-
rived dignity of the SON of GOD will appear to be infinite.
For his Father is infinitely illustrious. This must certain-
ly be the case, unless the Son has done something by which
he has forfeited his claim. But that he has not, we have
the highest ground of assurance ; twice by an audible voice
from Heaven, God has proclaimed his perfect satisfaction
in his Son, by saying, u This is my beloved Son, in ivhom
I am well pleased" And we have still farther assurance of
the same thing, by the high and important offices with
which God has invested his BELOVFD SON.

It has sometimes been the case in earthly governments,
that a King's son, who was well beloved of the father, has
been admitted, during the father's life, to a joint partici-
pation in the government, and invested by the father with
iingly authority. Such was the case with Solomon, the
son of David. Solomon derived his authority from David,
and by the pleasure of David he was crowned King j but



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. ,55

Solomon was as truly the King of Israel as though he had
possessed the same authority by self-existence.

If it be true, that God has an OWN and ONLY SON, in
whom he is well pleased, it would be natural to expect that
he would delight to honor him in the highest possible man-
ner.

Moreover, any wise and benevolent King, being about
to invest his son with kingly authority, would, were it in
his power, endue his son with every qualification or attri-
bute which Would be requisite to the most perfect and hon-
orable execution of the office which he was to sustain. And
such we may suppose would be the pleasure of God respect- f
ing his Son. Nor may we suppose any insufficiency in '
God, in respect to communicating of his own infinite ful-
ness to the Son, in whom he is ever well pleased.

Let us now examine the sacred Oracles, to see whether
these reasonable expectations are justified by revealed
facts.

In respect to communicated fulness or sufficiency, we
have the follow ng declarations...." He whom God hath
sent, speaketh the words of God ; for God givctk not the
SPIRIT by measure unto him." John iii. 34.

" For it pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should
dwell." Col. i. 19.

" In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Col. ii. 9.

Such then has been the pleasure of God in respect to en-
duing his Son with Divine sufficiency. If by a portion or
measure of the Divine Spirit, the apostles were instantane-
ously endued to speak a number of languages which they
had never learned, what may not the Son of God be able
to do, who has the Spirit without measure 2 And if it hath
pleased the Father that ALL FULNESS should dwell in his
Son, we can with no more propriety set bounds to the suf-
ficiency of Christ, than to the FULNESS of the GODHEAD.

Thus we find one of the reasonable expectations justifi-
ed by plain and positive declarations of Scripture.

We have next to show, that God has manifested a dis-
position to honor his Son in tfce highest possible manner.

As the first token ot this disposition in God, we may no-
tice that God CONSTITUTED his SON the CREATOR of the
world. In this great and astonishing work, a surprizing
display was made of the power, the wisdom, and the good-



6 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

ness of God. But in this work, it appears that the SON
was honored as the CONSTITUTED CREATOR ; for we are
expressly told, that GOD " created all things BY JESUS
CHRIST." Eph. iii. 9.

The work of creation is sometimes expressly attributed
to God, and sometimes as expressly attributed to the
WORD or SON of God : and from these representations
many have argued that the SON and GOD are the same Be-
ing. But it is thought that this conclusion has been too
hastily adopted. For if GOD created all things BY jfrsus
Ci RIST, the work of creation may, with great propriety,
be attributed to either the Father or the Son ; and yet they
may be two distinct intelligent Beings. God spake by the
Prophets ; and what the Prophets said, may, with pro-
priety, be attributed to either GOD or the PROPHETS : but
it will not hence follow that God and the Prophets are but
one and the same intelligent Being. As the Prophets were
CONSTITUTED MEDIUMS and AGENTS in foretelling events,
so Christ was the CONSTITUTED CREATOR of all things in
Heaven and earth.

In the next place, we may observe, that the Son was


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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 5 of 19)