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There are two modes of conduct with respect to religion, in which the mind may be justly said to act rationally. One is, to determine, antecedently to our knowledge of revelation, as well as we can, what is religious truth, by our reason ; the other, to find out and embrace when we have become acquainted with Revelation, what it declares to be religious truth. In the former of these situations Reason is our only guide. In the latter, its only business is to discover whether the professed revelation is a real one ; and, after this point is settled affirmatively, to discover and receive whatever it declares. God has now become our guide; and as he can neither deceive nor be deceived, our duty is to receive his testimony impliçitly. Had this plain and equitable rule been uniformly followed, Christianity would never have been thus distorted, nor the Church rent asunder by such lamentable divisions.
The reason why the Docetæ, one class of the ancient Unitarians, denied Christ to be a man, was the general principle of the Gnostics; that moral evil has its seat in matter. Hence they held, that the buman soul, which they believed to have been originally pure, derived its contamination solely from its union with the body. It was vo unnatural consequence for those who embraced this doctrine to adopt the impossibility of au union between God and the human body; since such an union was, of course, supposed to be capable of contaminating even the divine purity.
Their philosophy, therefore, seems necessarily to have led them into the conclusion, that Christ, whom they believed to be God, was never united to a human body. In the same manner has the philosophy of other sects led them also to embrace doctrines directly opposed to the express declarations of the Scriptures.
That Christ was a man, in the absolute sense, is easily made evident by many kinds of proof, and by almost numberless passages of Scripture.
1. He is called a man, and the Son of Man, in a very great multitude of instances.
The number of instances in which he has this latter appellation is no less than seventy-one. In sixty-seven of these instances it is given to him by himself, once by Daniel, once by St. Stephen, and twice by St. John in the Revelation. In giving this appellation to himself, it will I suppose be acknow
ledged, that he disclosed his real character, and was what he calls himself, the Son of Man.
When he is styled a man, also, he is described with just such characteristics, those excepted which involve error or sin, as belong to other men. He is exhibited as meek, lowly, and dutiful to his parents ; as hungry, thirsty, and weary; as sustained and refreshed by food, drink, and sleep; as the subject of natural affection; as weeping with tenderness and sorrow; as the subject of temptations, infirmities, and afflictions; and, generally, as having all the innocent characteristics which belong to our nature.
2. The history of his birth, life, and death is unanswerable proof that Christ was a man.
Christ was born, lived, and died essentially in the same manner as other men. He increased in wisdom' as well as
in stature ;' wrought with his hands, ate, drank, slept, suffered on the cross, gave up the ghost, and was buried, in the same manner as other men.
3, This point is argued at large and proved by St. Paul, in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
In the passage containing this argument are the following declarations : · For as much, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same :' and 'Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren.'
The proofs, which I have alleged will, it is presumed, be considered as abundantly sufficient. That Christ had a human body cannot be questioned. It is equally unquestionable, that to increase in wisdom, to be tempted, to be sorrowful, to be dutiful to human parents, together with other things of a similar nature, are attributed neither to God nor to the human body, but are appropriate characteristics of the human soul. Christ, therefore, had a human soul as well as a human body, and was in the absolute sense, a man.
But he was not a man only.
This also is evident from numerous scriptural declarations. St. Paul says, Philippians ü. 5, · He who was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God, nevertheless made himself of no reputation EXEYWOT, emptied himself, or divested himself, of this form of God, the glory and greatness which he before possessed ;) and, ' taking upon himself
the form of a servant, was born (or existed,) in the likeness of men.' It is not my intention, in quoting this passage, to insist on the Deity of Christ, so unequivocally declared in it; but only to observe, that he who was thus a man was, antecedently to his appearance in this human character, a person entirely distinct from what he was as a man.
Antecedently to his being born in the likeness of men,' he existed, and existed in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God. Nevertheless, (QUTOY EXtWor,) he emptied himself. He existed, therefore, previously to his
' appearance as a man, and emptied himself' voluntarily, when he (voluntarily, also) · took upon himself the form of a servant, and was born in the likeness of men. In other words, the person, here,spoken of as being in the form of God,' became incarnate. This person, I have attempted to show, was divine; and no other than the Word, or Son of God.
The great objection to the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ is an objection of philosophy only, and in my view a very unphilosophical objection. “ It is a doctrine,” say the objectors, “ wholly mysterious and inexplicable.”
After what was urged in the preceding Discourse on the subject of mysteries, very little can be thought necessary to be added here. Let it however be observed, that the truth of the objection is cheerfully acknowledged by me; and, so far as I know, by all who hold this doctrine. At the same time, it is an objection without force; and is idly urged, to say the least, by Unitarians. When the Arians will explain how their super-angelic being became the infant, and ultimately the man, Jesus Christ, and did, and suffered, and accomplished the things asserted of Christ; when the Socinians will explain how he who was created by the Holy Ghost, was born of Joseph and Mary; how organized matter thinks; how he who began to exist at his birth, existed antecedently in the form of God;'emptied himself;' and was then born in the likeness of men ;' and when both, or either, of them will explain how the things, said in the Scriptures concerning Christ, are true, and at the same time consistent with their respective schemes ; or how God could say them, if they were not true; I think I may venture upon an attempt to explain the mystery of the incarnation. Until we know the nature of the divine existence, and the nature of the human soul, we shall never be able to
determine how far God may unite himself with such a soul, or whether such an union is impossible.
On this and every other question concerning the nature of the divine existence, and of the existence of finite minds, we cannot even begin to form ideas, but must be indebted for whatever facts we either know or believe to the testimony of God.
For aught that we are able to determine, a finite mind may be so far united to the infinite mind, as that all the views, affections, purposes, ends, and agency of both, which are not discordant in their very nature, may exactly coincide ; and, independently of their character as finite or infinite, constitute but a single character and a single agency. But, as I have before said, for all our just conceptions on this subject, we are and must be indebted to the testimony of God only; and beyond this testimony, as well as without it, we literally know nothing
This testimony, as it relates to the doctrine under consideration, is in my view complete. That Christ is truly and essentially God has, if I mistake not, been sufficiently evinced ; and also that he appeared in this world a man in the absolute and perfect sense. This account of his character will be advantageously elucidated by a summary comparison of the representations made of him in both these characters.
As God it is said :
As MAN it is said : That he is God, the true That he was an infant, a God, the mighty God, the great child, a man, a carpenter, the God, Jehovah, I am, and Em- son of Joseph and Mary, and manuel, &c. That his goings the brother, or cousin german, forth were from of old, from of James and Joses. That he everlasting ; that he was in the was born in the reign of Herod beginning ; set up from ever- the Great, and of the Roman lasting, or ever the earth was, emperor Augustus Cæsar. &c. That he was in the be- That he was born in Judea ; ginning with God; rejoicing in Bethlehem, the city of Daalway before him ; present, vid; in the stable of an inn; when he prepared the heavens, and was cradled in a manger. and laid the foundations of the That he was refused a place
a earth; and possessed of glory in the inn, forgotten in the
; with him before ever the world stable, and unfurnished even was. With reference to his with the ordinary comforts, greatness as God united to provided for the children of man, it is said, that Gabriel peasants. predicted his birth, an angel declared to the shepherds of Bethlehem that he was born, and a choir of the heavenly host sung together his natal hymn.
That he is the same yester- That he grew while a child day, to day, and for ever. really and perceptibly, in wis
dom and stature, and in favour with God and man, and therefore changed day by day, and
that through his life. That all things are his; that That he had not where to he upholds them by the word lay his head, and was sustained, of his power, and that they without any property of his were made for him, and by own, by the bounty of his dishim.
ciples, and, at times, of others. That he is Lord of all things, That he was subject to the of angels, principalities, and Jewish and Roman governpowers; and will subdue, and ments paid tribute, and peris able to subdue, all things formed all the usual duties of a unto himself, and put all op- child to his parents, and of a position under his feet; and subject to his ruler; and was that his throne and dominion exposed to the direct assaults are for ever and ever.
and temptations of the devil. That he was originally rich That, for our sakes, he bein the possession of all things; came poor, afflicted, despised,
, and the continual delight of and rejected of men; a man of his Father in the heavens : sorrows and acquainted with where the angels unceasingly grief; lightly esteemed, hated, worshipped him.
and persecuted. That at the close of this That he was betrayed by world, he will come in the Judas; seized by the Roman clouds of heaven with power soldiers; brought before the and great glory, and with all Sanhedrim; judged, condemnhis holy angels; will summon ed to death; again brought bethe dead from their graves; fore Pilate, judged and conwill gather all nations before demned ; buffeted, crowned