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DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
It is proposed in this tract to explain the scriptural doctrine of our Lord's divinity. We address it to those Christians, who are prejudiced against the Unitarian system, on account of its supposed rejection of this doctrine. We trust that a candid cxamination of our real views will convince them that we believe in the divinity of our blessed Lord, as taught in the record which God. hath given of his Son.
1. Let us inquire what is the divinity which the scriptures attribute to Jesus Christ. The leading ideas which they inculcate on this point, as we expect to prove, may be comprehended under the following heads.
1. Jesus is divine, because he came with a divine commission. He was sanctified by the Father, and sent into the world as his immediate messenger. The offices which he bore, for the redemption of the world, were not assumed upon his own authority, but were assigned him by the authority of the Father. He was not like those benefactors, who confer favors upon their country or upon mankind, through the impulses of a patriotic or benevolent spirit; but he was divinely set apart for the momentous service which he was to perform, and received his commission from the inspiration of God.
2. Jesus is divine, because he was divinely instructed. The wisdom with which he spake was not his own, but was given him by his Father. The system of truth, which he revealed, was communicated to him from heaven. His words are to us the words of God, his commands the commands of God; since we believe that God spake by him; entrusted him with his commandments; and taught him the doctrines which he revealed to the world.
3. Jesus is divine on account of the divinity of his character. In his moral excellence he was a ray of the divine brightness, and the express image of the divine perfections. He was sanctified to a degree, which though men may, emulate they cannot fully attain. So holy, so spiritual, so divine, was his character, that it conveys to us the best idea we can form of the character of the Deity. In his disposition, his feelings, his affections, he was one with the Father; God dwelt in him, and he in God.
Such is the divinity which the scriptures attribute to our Saviour-a divinity of commission, of doctrine, and of character. You may ask, if in addition to this, the doctrine of our Lord's divinity does not imply that he was the true God. By no means. In the first place, this is not required by the meaning of the language. According to the common use of words, there is an important distinction between deity and divinity. We apply the term deity only to the self-existent and independent God. We apply the term divinity to whatever is peculiarly and intimately related to the self-existent and independent God. Thus we speak of the divinity of the Holy Scriptures; meaning, that they contain doctrines which came from God; but we never speak of their deity. We speak of the divinity of the Mosaic dispensation, and of the Christian religioa; meaning that they were established by God; but we never speak of their deity. In like manner, we speak of the divinity of Christ, according to the explanation just given ; but never, so long as we abide by the declarations of the bible, can we speak of the deity of Christ. The bible constantly observes the distinction between the terms, in its views of our Saviour. While it represents him as commissioned, instructed, and sanctified by God, at the same time, it represents him as a different being from God, dependent upon him for his wisdom, authority, and power; and inferior to him, as the being sent is inserior to him who sends; as the son is inferior to the Father; the creature to the Creator.
In the second place, if the divinity of our Saviour be, as we have explained it, a divinity of commission, doctrine, and character, it is impossible that he should possess the original attributes of the Deity. The force of the scriptural arguments, which we shall presently adduce, cannot be evaded by the assertion, that you admit the doctrine which they support, but at the same time you believe, in addition, that Jesus Christ is the omnipotent Deity; since if you attempt this to avoid the difficulty, you fall into one still greater. · You must have recourse to the common distinction of a double nature, in the person of our Lord, and then argue that some things are true of him as a man, which are not true of him as God. But this distinction has been often shown to be contradictory. A moment's reflection will convince you that it is not tenable. For instance,- to use -NO. XXXIV.