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Luke xxii. They having taken our Saviour, and being very desirous to get a confession from his own mouth that he was the Messiah, that they might be from thence able to raise a formal and prevalent accusation against him before Pilate, the only thing the council asked him was, Whether he was the Messiah ? v. 67. To which he answers so, in the following words, that he lets them see he understood that the design of their question was to entrap him, and not to believe in him; whatever he should declare of himself. But yet he tells them, “ Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God :" words that to the Jews plainly enough owned him to be the Messiah ; but yet such as could not have any force against him with Pilate, He having confessed so much, they hope to draw yet a clearer confession from him. “ Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any
further witness ? For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.” Can any one think, that the doc. trine of his deity (which is that which the unmasker accuses me for waving) was that wbich the Jews designed to accuse our Saviour of, before Pilate; or that they needed witnesses for? Common sense, as well as the current of the whole history, shows the contrary. No, it was to accuse him, that he owned himself to be the Messiah, and thereby claimed a title to be King of the Jews. The Son of God was so known a name amongst the Jews, to stand for the Messiah, that having got that from his mouth, they thought they had proof enough for treason against him. This carries with it a clear and easy meaning. But if the Son of God be to be taken, as the unmasker would have it, for a declaration of his deity, I desire him to make common and coherent sense of it.
I shall add one consideration more to show that the Son of God was a form of speech then used among the Jews, to signify the Messiah, from the persons that used it, viz. John the Baptist, Nathanael, St. Peter, Martha, the Sanhedrim, and the centurion, Matth. xxvii. 54. Here are Jews, heathens, friends, enemies, men, women,
believers and unbelievers, all indifferently use this phrase of the Son of God, and apply it to Jesus. The question between the unmasker and ine is, Whether it was used by these several persons as an appellation of the Messiah, or, (as the unmasker would have it) in a quite different sense; as such an application of divinity to our Saviour, that he that shallo deny that to be the meaning of it in the minds of these speakers, denies the divinity of Jesus Christ. For if they did speak it without that meaning, it is plain it was a phrase known to have another meaning; or else they had talked unintelligible jargon. Now I will ask the unmasker, “ Whether he thinks, that the eternal generation, or, as the unmasker calls it, filiation of Jesus the Son of God, was a doctrine that had entered into the thoughts of all the persons above-mentioned, even of the Roman centurion, and the soldiers that were with him watching Jesus?”. If he says he does, I suppose he thinks so only for this time, and for this occasion: and then it will lie upon him to give the world convincing reasons for his opinion, that they may think so too; or if he does not think so, he must give up his argument, and allow that this phrase, in these places, does not necessarily import the deity of our Saviour, and the doctrine of his eternal generation : and so a man may take it to be an expression standing for the Messiah, without being a Socinian, any more than he himself is one.
“ There is one place,” the unmasker tells us, p. 87, “that confutes all the surmises about the identity of these terms. It is,” says he, “ that famous confession of faith which the Ethiopian eunuch made, when Philip told him, he might be baptized, if he believed. This, without doubt, was said, according to that apprehension which he had of Christ from Philip's instructing him; for he said he preached unto him Jesus, ver. 35. He had acquainted him, that Jesus was the Christ, the anointed of God, and also, that he was the Son of God; which includes in it that he was God. And accordingly, this noble proselyte gives this account of his faith, in order to his being baptized, in order to his being admitted a member of Christ's church: • I be
lieve that Jesus is the Son of God:' or you may read it according to the Greek, I believe the Son of God to be Jesus Christ.' Where there are these two distinct propositions :
« 1st, That Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. “2dly, That he is not only the Messiah, but the Son of God.”
The unmasker is every where steadily the same subtile arguer. Whether he has proved that the Son of God, in this confession of the eunuch, signifies what he would have, we shall examine by and by. This at least is demonstration, that this passage of his overturns his principles; and reduces his long list of fundamentals to two propositions, the belief whereof is sufficient to make a man a Christian. “This noble proselyte,” says
* the unmasker, "gives this account of his faith, in order to his being baptized, in order to his being admitted a member of Christ's church.” And what is that faith, according to the unmasker? He tells you, " there are in it these two distinct propositions, viz. I believe, 1st, That Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah : 2dly, That he is not only the Messiah, but the Son of God.” If this famous confession, containing but these two articles, were enough to his being baptized ; if this faith were sufficient to make this noble proselyte a Christian; what is become of all those other articles of the unmasker's system, without the belief whereof, he, in other places, tells us a man cannot be a Christian? If he had here told us, that “
Philip had not time nor opportunity," during his short stay with the eunuch, to explain to him all the unmasker's system, and make him understand all his fundamentals; he had had reason on his side: and he might have urged it as a reason why Philip taught him no more. But nevertheless he had, by allowing the eunuch's confession of faith sufficient for his admittance as a member of Christ's church, given up his other fundamentals, as necessary to be believed to make a man a Christian; even that of the Holy Trinity; and he has at last reduced his necessary articles to these two, viz. “That Jesus is the Messiah; and that.“ Jesus is the Son of God.” So that, after his
ridiculous calling mine a lank faith, I desire him to consider what he will now call his own. Mine is next to none, because, as he says, it is but one article. If that reasoning be good, his is not far from none; it consists but in two articles, which is next to one, and very little more remote from none than one is. If any one had but as much wit as the unmasker, and could be but as smart upon the number two, as he has been upon an unit, here were a brave opportunity for him to lay out his parts; and he might make vehement complaints against one, that has thus “ cramped our faith, corrupted men's minds, depraved the Gospel, and abused Christianity.” But if it should fall out, as I think it will, that the unmasker's two articles should prove to be but one; he has saved another that labour, and he stands painted to himself with his own charcoal.
The unmasker would have the Son of God, in the confession of the eunuch, to signify something different from the Messiah : and his reason is, because else it would be an absurd tautology. Ans. There are many exegetical expressions put together in Scripture, which, though they signify the same thing, yet are not absurd tautologies. The unmasker here inverts the proposition, and would have it to signify thus: “ The Son of God is Jesus the Messiah ;" which is a proposition so different from what the apostles proposed, every where else, that he ought to have given a reason why, when, every where else, they made the proposition to be of something affirmed of Jesus of Nazareth, the eunuch should make the affirmation to be of soinething concerning the Son of God: as if the eunuch knew very well what the Son of God signified, viz. as the unmasker tells us here, that it included or signified God ; and that Philip (who, we read, at Samaria preached Tôv Xprotiv the Messiah, i. e. instructed them who the Messiah was) had here taken pains only to instruct him, that this God was Jesus the Messiah, and to bring him to assent to that proposition. Whether this be natural to conceive, I leave to the reader.
The tautology, on which the unmasker builds his
whole objection, will be quite removed if we take Christ here for a proper name, in which way it is used by the evangelists and apostles in other places, and particularly by St. Luke, in Acts ii. 38. iii. 6, 20. iv. 10. xxiv. 24, &c. In two of these places it cannot, with any good sense, be taken otherwise ; for, if it be not in Acts iii. 6, and iv. 10, used as a proper name, we must read those places thus, “ Jesus the Messiah of Nazareth.” And I think it plain in those others cited, as well as in several other places of the New Testament, that the word Christ is used as a proper name. We may easily conceive, that long before the Acts were writ, the name of Christ was grown, by a familiar use, to denote the person of our Saviour as much as Jesus. . This is so manifest, that it gave a name to his followers; who, as St. Luke tells us, xi. 26, were called Christians and that, if chronologists mistake not, twenty years before St. Luke writ his history of the apostles: and this so generally, that Agrippa, a Jew, uses it, Acts xxvi. 28. And that Christ, as the proper name of our Saviour, was got as far as Rome, before St. Luke writ the Acts, appears out of Suetonius, 1. 5; and by that name he is called in Tacitus, Ann. 1. 15. It is no wonder then, that St. Luke, in writing this history, should sometimes set it down alone, sometimes joined with that of Jesus, as a proper name, which is much easier to conceive he did here, than that Philip proposed more to the eunuch to be believed to make him a Christian, than what, in other places, was proposed for the conversion of others, or than what he himself proposed at Samaria.
His 7th chapter is to prove that I am a Socinian, because I omitted Christ's satisfaction. That matter having been answered, p. 265, where it came properly under consideration, I shall only observe here, that the great stress of his argument lies, as it did before, not upon my total omission of it out of my book, but on this, that “ I have no such thing in the place where the advantages of Christ's coming are purposely treated of;" from whence he will have this to be an unavoidable inference, viz. “ That I was of opinion, that