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properly or fitly called the Son of God, with some peculiarity and eminency above all others: but his being with such emphasis called God's only begotten Son, imports a more excellent ground than any of the preceding.
Reasons given why neither the temporal generation, nor the resurrectional one, nor the free collation of power and dignity, nor the heirship of all things, nor all the glorious prerogatives appropriated to Christ, &c. can account for this peculiar relationship, and the expressions by which it is denoted.
We must search for a better ground of this peculiar Sonship in the testimonies of holy Scripture; whence it is evident,
1. That our Saviour had in himself somewhat more than human, according to which he is said to have existed before his temporal generation here among men. No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, &c. This head enlarged on.
2. And this pre-existence was necessary, since God by him made the world. God, saith St. Paul, created all things by Jesus Christ, &c.
3. He did indeed exist from all eternity; for he is called absolutely, the Beginning, which excludes all time previous to his existence: he is styled the first-born of every creature ; or rather, as it ought to stand, born before all the creation : this head enlarged on.
4. From what has been said, it follows that his being was absolutely divine. If he was no creature, if author of all creatures, if eternally subsistent, then assuredly he is God; such state, action, and property being incommunicably peculiar to God. Many instances quoted from Scripture, wherein he is expressly designated as God. In many others the same is intimated. And seeing that holy Scripture is so cautious against inculcating the belief of more gods than one, how can we reconcile these things, unless we acknowlege our Saviour to be God?
That he is truly so, we may farther show. From other appellations peculiar to God, applied to him; as that of Jehovah, Lord, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, &c. : this head enlarged on.
Also from the divinest attributes of God, in the most absolute manner and perfect degree, assigned to him ; eternity as already shown; immensity of presence and power; the wisdom of God, and the power of God, &c.
The divine attributes he also expresses by divinest operations and works ascribed unto him; by the work of creation ; that of sustaining and preserving things in being ; that of performe ing miracles, &c. : this topic dilated on.
Now all this state and majesty, all these glorious titles, attributes, and works, can we imagine that he whose name is Jealous, (Exod. xxiv. 14.) who will not give his glory to another, (Is. xlii. 8.) would communicate them, or suffer them to be ascribed to a mere creature ? &c. Our Saviour therefore, when he assumes them, is truly God.
II. Now since the whole tenor of our religion asserts the unity of God, our Saviour, being God, must of necessity partake of the same individual essence with God his Father : this explained and enlarged on.
Yet hath he not this essence from himself, but by communication. He is not first in order, but is the image of the invisible God, the character, or exact impression of his substance. He is the internal Word or Mind of God, which resembles him, and yet is not different from him: he is the life, the wisdom, and the power of God; which terms denote intrinsic and perfect unity: this point enlarged on and illustrated. Some practical applications of the point.
1. We may hereby learn whence the performances and sufferings of Christ become of so high worth and so great effi
2. What reverence and adoration is due from us to our
Saviour, and why we must honor the Son even as we honor the Father, &c. : 3. We may hence perceive the infinite goodness of God towards us, and our correspondent obligation to thankfulness and love towards him, &c.
4. This consideration may fitly serve to beget in us hope and confidence in God on all occasions of need and distress.
5. St. John applies it also to the begetting charity in us towards our brethren. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
6. It may also remind us of the dignity of our nature and condition ; and how in this respect we ought to behave ourselves.
7. This consideration greatly aggravates all impiety and sin: this shown.
8. Lastly, it may serve to beget in us a high esteem of the evangelical dispensation, and a hearty submission to its doctrines and precepts.
uis only Son, &c.
JOHN, CHAP. 1.-VERSE 14.
And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
THAT Jesus Christ our Lord is the uovoyevns, the only Son of God, that is, the Son of God in a peculiar and high manner, otherwise far than any creature can be so termed, St. John doth here (and in several other places) suppose, or assert plainly; and it is a great point of the Christian doctrine, a special object of our faith. To show the truth of which, to explain how it is to be understood, and to apply the consideration thereof to our practice, shall be the subject and scope of our present discourse.
I. That the Messias, designed by God to come into the world for the restoring and reconciling mankind unto God, was in an especial manner to be the Son of God, even the ancient prophets did foretel and presignify; Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,' saith God of him in the second Psalm. And of him, that which in the first less perfect sense was spoken to King Solomon, (who as the son and heir of David, as the builder of God's house, as a prince of peace, reigning in great glory, wealth, and prosperity; as endued with incomparable wisdom, did most signally represent and prefigure him,) was chiefly intended for him, and did more exactly agree to him; · He shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever :' and again; • He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation :' Also I will make him
my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.' And accordingly it was, even before our Saviour's appearance, a persuasion commonly passing among the Jews, (both learned and unlearned,) that the Messias should be the Son of God; as may be collected from several passages in the New Testament; in which being the Christ and being the Son of God are conjoined as inseparable adjuncts, whereof one did imply the other, according to the sense then current, and previous to the embracing our Lord's doctrine. For Nathanael, we see, was no sooner persuaded that Jesus was the Christ, but be (according to his anticipation, common to the people) confesseth thus ; • Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; Rabbi, thou art the King of Israel.' 'Martha in like manner being moved to declare her faith concerning Jesus, expresseth it thus; · Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world :' and likewise doth St. Peter, in the name of all his brethren, the Apostles; We have believed, and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' St. John the Baptist also doth thus express his belief and yield his testimony concerning Jesus ; ' And I said, and bare record, that this is the Son of God.' Yea even the bigh priest himself implied the same, when examining our Lord he said, “ Art thou tie Christ, the Son of the Blessed ? • I adjure thee by the living God; tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God: supposing that to be the Christ and to be the Son of God would concur in the same person. Yea, the devils themselves had learned this, who cried out, · What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God ?'
Thus did the ancient Scriptures intimate, and thus were God's people generally persuaded about the Messias; and that he is indeed the Son of God, the evangelical Scripture doth every where teach us, calling him not only at large the Son of God, but more emphatically the à yaantos, (the darling Son of God;') the viós rijs åyúrns, 'Son of God's love;' the vios ålndıvòs, ‘God's true Son,' (that is, such most properly, in a most excellent manner incomparably representing and resembling God;) the idios viòs, (God's proper, or peculiar Son ;) the mpwrotókos, 'God's first-born ;' God's viòs povoyevns, 'his only begotten Son:' all which epithets import somewhat of