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say, “they are of different significations.” My concernment in the case being only, that in the passage alleged, the reverend author said, that the Son of God, and the Messiah, were “different expressions of the same thing,” I have no more to demand after these words of the unmasker; he has in them granted all I would have: and I shall not meddle with his “speaking closely and strictly,” but shall leave it to the decisive authority of this superlative critic to determine whether this learned bishop, or any one living, besides himself, can understand the phrases of the New Testament, and “speak strictly and closely" concerning them. Perhaps, his being yet alive, may preserve this eminent prelate from the malicious drivelling of this unmasker's pen, which has bespattered the ashes of two of the same order, who were no mean ornaments of the English church; and if they had been now alive, nobody will doubt but the unmasker would have treated them after another fashion.
But let me ask the unmasker, whether if either of these pious prelates, whose words I have above quoted, did understand that phrase of the Son of God to stand for the Messiah ; (which they might do without holding any one Socinian tenet) he will dare to pronounce him a Socinian? This is so ridiculous an inference, that I could not but laugh at it. But withal tell him, Vindic. p. 172, “That if the sense, wherein I understand those texts, be a mistake, I shall be beholden to him to set me right : but they are not popular authorities, or frightful names, whereby. I judge of truth or false
I hood.” To which I subjoin these words : “You will now, no doubt, applaud your conjectures; the point is gained, and I am openly a Socinian ; since I will not disown, that I think the Son of God was a phrase, that, among the Jews, in our Saviour's time, was used for the Messiah, though the Socinians understood it in the same sense. And therefore I must certainly be of their persuasion in every thing, else. I admire the acuteness, force, and fairness of your reasoning; and so I leave you to triumph in your conjectures." Nor has he failed my expectation:
for here, p. 91, of his Socinianism unmasked, he, , upon this, erects his comb, and crows most mightily. “We may,” says he, “from hence, as well as other reasons, pronounce him the same with those gentlemen (i. e. as he is pleased to call them, my good patrons and friends the Racovians ;) which you may perceive he is very apprehensive of, and thinks, that this will be reckoned a good evidence of his being, what he denied himself to be before.” “The point is gained, saith he, and I am openly a Socinian.” “ He never uttered truer words in his life, and they are the confutation of all his pretences to the contrary. This truth, which unwarily dropped from his pen, confirms what I have laid to his charge.” Now you have sung your song of triumph, it is fit you should gain your victory, by showing,
XLIX. How my understanding the Son of God to
be a phrase used amongst the Jews, in our Saviour's time, to signify the Messiah, proves me to be a Socinian?
Or, if you think you have proved it already, I desire you to put your proof into a syllogism : for I confess myself so dull, as not to see any such conclusion deducible from my understanding that phrase as I do, even when you have proved that I am mistaken in it.
The places, which in the New Testament show, that the Son of God stands for the Messiah, are so many and so clear, that I imagine nobody that ever considered and compared them
together, could doubt of their meaning, unless he were an unmasker. Several of them I have collected and set down in my Reasonableness of Christianity, p. 17, 18, 19, 21, 28, 52.
First, John the Baptist, John i. 20, when the Jews sent to know who he was, confessed he himself was not the Messiah. But of Jesus he says, ver. 34, after having several ways, in the foregoing verses, declared him to be the Messiah: “And I saw and bare record, that this is the Son of God.” And again, chap. iii. 26-36, he declaring Jesus to be, and himself not to be the
Messiah, he does it in these synonymous terms, of the Messiah, and the Son of God; as appears by comparing ver. 28, 35, 36.
Nathanael owns him to be the Messiah, in these words, John i. 50, “Thou art the Son of God, thou art the
. King of Israel :” which our Saviour, in the next verse, calls believing ; a term, all through the history of our Saviour, used for owning Jesus to be the Messiah. And for confirming that faith of his, that he was the Messiah, our Saviour further adds, that he should see greater things, i. e. should see him do greater miracles, to evidence that he was the Messiah.
Luke iv. 41, “And devils also came out of many, crying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God; and he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak.” And so again, St. Mark tells us, chap. iii. 11, 12, “ That unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he strictly charged them, that they should not make him known.” In both these places, which relate to different times, and different occasions, the devils declare Jesus to be the Son of God. It is certain, whatever they meant by it, they used a phrase of a known signification in that country: and what may we reasonably think they designed to make known to the people by it? Can we imagine these unclean spirits were promoters of the Gospel, and had a mind to acknowIedge and publish to the people the deity of our Saviour, which the unmasker would have to be the signification of the Son of God? Who can entertain such a thought ? No, they were no friends to our Saviour: and therefore desired to spread a belief of him, that he was the Messiah, that so he might, by the envy of the Scribes and Pharisees, be disturbed in his ministry, and be cut off before he had completed it. And therefore we see, our Saviour in both places forbids them to make him known; as he did his disciples themselves, for the same reason. For when St. Peter, Matt. xvi. 16, had owned Jesus to be the Messiah, in these words : “ Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God;" it follows, ver. 20, “Then charged he his disciples, that they should
tell no man that he was Jesus the Messiah :" just as he had forbid the devils to make him known i, e. to be the Messiah. Besides, these words here of St. Peter can be taken in no other sense, but barely to signify, that Jesus was the Messiah, to make them a proper answer to our Saviour's question. His first question here to his disciples, ver. 13, is, “Whom do men say, that I, the Son of man, am ?” The question is not, Of what original do you
think the Messiah, when he comes, will be? For then this question would have been as it is, Matt. xxij. 42, “ What think ye of the Messiah, whose Son is he?"
? if he had inquired about the common opinion, concern. ing the nature and descent of the Messiah. But this question is concerning himself: Whom, of all the extraordinary persons known to the Jews, or mentioned in their sacred writings, the people thought him to be? That this was the meaning of his question is evident from the answer the apostles gave to it, and his further demand, ver. 14, 15, “ They said, Some say thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? The people take me, some for one of the prophets or extraordinary messengers from God, and some for another : But which of them do you take me to be? “Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” In all which discourse, it is evident there was not the least inquiry made by our Saviour concerning the person, nature, or qualifications of the Messiah ; but whether the people
l or his apostles thought him, i. e. Jesus of Nazareth, to be the Messiah. To which St. Peter gave him a direct and plain answer in the foregoing words, declaring their belief of him to be the Messiah : which is all that, with any manner of congruity, could be made the sense of St. Peter's answer. This alone of itself were enough to justify my interpretation of St. Peter's words, without the authority of St. Mark and St. Luke, both whose words confirm it. For St. Mark, chap. viii. 29, renders it, “ Thou art the Messiah ;” and St. Luke, chap. ix. 20, “ The Messiah of God.” To the like question, “Who art thou ?” John the Baptist gives a like answer,
John i. 19, 20, “ I am not the Christ." By which answer, as well as by the foregoing verses, it is plain, nothing was understood to be meant by that question, but, Which of the extraordinary persons, promised to, or expected by, the Jews art thou ?
John xi. 27, the phrase of the Son of God is made use of by Martha; and that it was used by her to signify the Messiah, and nothing else, is evident out of the context. Martha tells our Saviour, that if he had been there, before her brother died, he, by that divine power which he had manifested in so many miracles which he had done, could have saved his life; and that now, if our Saviour would ask it of God, he might obtain the restoration of his life. Jesus tells her he shall rise again : which words Martha taking to mean at the general resurrection at the last day, Jesus there upon takes occasion to intimate to her, that he was the Messiah, by telling her, that he was “ the resurrection and the life;" i. e. that the life, which mankind should receive at the general resurrection, was by and through him. This was a description of the Messiah, it being a received opinion among the Jews, that when the Messiah came, the just should rise, and live with him for ever. And having made this declaration of himself to be the Messiah, he asks Martha, “Believest thou this?" What? Not whose son the Messiah should be; but whether he himself was the Messiah, by whom believers should have eternal life at the last day. And to this she gives this direct and apposite answer: “ Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." Thé question was only, Whether she was persuaded, that those, who believed in him, should be raised to eternal life; that was in effect, “ Whether he was the Messiah?? And to this she answers, Yea, Lord, I believe this of thee: and then she explains what was contained in that faith of hers; even this, that he was the Messiah that was promised to come, by whom alone men were to receive eternal life.
What the Jews also understood by the Son of God is likewise clear from that passage at the latter end of