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CHA P. VIII. That during the Time of our Savior's Ministry, the
Disciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and afifted by the Spirit of God.
DEFORE I proceed to the Examination of
D the second Text of Scripture, which is suppos'd to teach, that the WORD, or Divine Nature of our Lord Jesus Chrift, is inferior to the very God; 'tis necessary for me to prove, 1. That during the Time of our Savior's Miniftry, the Dic fciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and affifted by the Spirit of God; 2. That during the Time of our Savior's Ministry, the WORD, or Divine Nature, was quiescent in the Man Christ Jesus... .. FIRST then, during the Time of our Savior's Ministry, the Disciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and affifted by the Spirit of God. ;' i * Whecher you will grant me this Proposition, I know not. You exprefly (a) declare, that Christ's Difciples had not any the leaft Thought of his claiming to be God in any Sense, when he utter'd what we read in Fohn 5. 18. Nor do I remember, that you have any where faid or fupposed, that they had after: wards; during the Time of his Ministry, different Sentiments, If I guess aright, you will rather ale low, that they continued of the fame Opinion till
) Reply to Mr. Nelson's Friend, p. 1347
his Ministry was ended. However, since you have not inform'd us, whether you do grant this Proposition or no and because 'cis certain, that too many others will not grant it: therefore I think my self obliged co evince the Truth of it. In order thereto I observe,
First, That there is not in all the New Testament any one Passage, which either asserts or implys, that the Disciples believed him to have had any Divine Nature during his Ministry. They did indeed esteem him a great Prophet, even the Meffiah, the greatest of Prophets: but yet at the same time they esteem'd him a mere Man; and did not apprehend, that another Nature, superior to that of a Man, viz. the WORD of God, was personally united to the Man Christ Jesus.
I can't think of more than one Text, that can pofsibly be alleged against this Affertion, viz. Foba 16. 30. where the Disciples say, Now are we sure, that i hou knoweft all things. And if any person should conclude from hence, that the Disciples then believ'd him to be strictly Omniscient, and that confequently he was more than a mere Man conducted and assisted by God's Spirit ; I answer, 1. That the same Spirit which did so certainly discover the moft fecret Things to him and his Disciples, might discover, if he pleas’d, even all Things in the most abfolute and unlimited Sense, altho' our Savior himself were at the same time no more than a mere Man. · The Text does not say, that the Disciples thought, that Christ had inherently in himself, by the Neceflity of his own Nature, a strict Omniscience (which would indeed have proved, that he discover'd himself to be the very God) but it fays, that they thought he knew all Things (we will now suppose in the utmost Extent of the Ex
prefsion) preffion) and fo might a mere Man by the Com. munication of the Spirit. 2. That the Words of the Disciples do by no means imply, that they thought our Savior: endued with a strict Omniscie ence. For let us observe the Context. Our Savior had said, A little wbile and ye shall not fee me: and again, a little while" and ye shall see me, because I go to the Fatber, v. 16. His Disciples did not understand this Saying, and therefore had fome privat Difcourse about it, which they did not speak so loud, as that our Savior should hear them. For says the Evangelist, Then said. Some of his disciples among them, selves. What is this, that be faith unto us, 'A little while and ye shall not see me : and again, a little while and ye foall. See me: and because I go to the Fatber. They said. therefore, what is this that he faith, A little while. We cannot tell what be faith, v. 17, 18. Our blessed Lord therefore, who knew their Hearts, prevented their asking a Solution of the Difficulty that puzzled them, and which they would gladly have heard him resolve. For the Text says, Now Hesus knew, that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do yé enquire among your selves of that I said, A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and gue hall see me, v. 19? And then he proceeds to ex. plain himself in some following Verses. After which his Disciples said unto him, Lo, now Speakeft thou plainly, and Speakest no Proverb. Now are we sure, that thou kriowest all things, and needest not that any man Should ask thee : by this we believe, that thou camejt forth from God, v. 29, 30. ':
The all things therefore, which they perceiv'd from this Fact that our Lord knew, were only the Secrets of their Hearts (for they could conclude no more from that Instance of his Knowledge) and. the following Words declare as much. For he, in
their Opinion, therefore knew all things, because he knew what they were desirous to ask, and gave them instantly a most apt Answer to their intended Inquiry, so that he needed not, that any should ask him. By his knowing all things therefore, they can't reasonably be understood to have meant more, than that he had a vast Knowledge, even of such things as are inscrutable to mere Man..
And accordingly, 'tis certain, that this Phrase is used in a very limited Sense in both the Old and New Testament. Thus, when the wise Woman said to David, My Lord is wife according to the wisdom of an Angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth, 2 Sam. 14. 20. and when St. John said to his Disciples, But je bave an unktion from the holy one, and ye know all things, i John 2. 20. and again, the same anointing teacheth you of all things, v. 27. no Man in his Wits can conceive, that either of them meant more by all things, than a great deal, or a very extensive Knowledge. In the same Sense St. Paul said to Timothy, The Lord give thee understanda ing in all things, 2 Tim. 2. 7. Nay, we our felves in common Discourse usually say, such an one knows every thing; but surely we don't mean, that the Person is strictly Omniscient.
What has been already said, is sufficient to clear the abovesaid Text. But there is one other Confideration, which demonftrats the Truth of my Interpretation. The Disciples had no sooner said, Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needej not that any man should ask thee; but they immediatly subjoin, By this we believe, that thou camest frirth from God. Now by Christ's coming forth from God is meant his being a true Prophet. For the Difference between true and false Prophets is this, That the true ones are sent by God, and the false ones
are are not sent by him, but come of themselves. Accordingly our blessed Lord says, I proceeded forth (Eña Joy, the same Word which in this other Place is rendred, came forth) and came from God: neitber çame I (ide Séanau itu, for I did not come) of my self, but he sent me, John 8. 42. You see, our Lord proves, that he came forth from God, because he did not come of himself, but God sent him. And consequently his proceeding forth from God signifies his being a true Prophet, in Contradiftinction to what he would have been, had he come of himself, without God's Million. Now his Disciples concluded, that he proceeded forth from God (that is, was a true Prophet) because he knew all things, and needed not that any man should ask him. And indeed, this miraculous Knowledge was a good Proof of the Truth and Certainty of his Divine Mission. But then, since from this his miraculous Knowledge, they inferr'd nothing more, than that he was a true Prophet ; 'tis manifeft, that they did not from this his Knowledge infer, that he was more than a mere Man conducted and affifted by God's Spirit, and consequently more than a true Prophet.
Whether the fame Phrase, as used by St. Peter in that remarkable Declaration, Lord, thou knoweft all things ; tbou knowejt that I love thee, John 21. 17. does admit or require the same limited Interpretation; I need not determin. Because 'twas spoken after the Time of our Lord's Ministry was ended, éven after his Resurrection; and consequently 'tis beyond the Bounds of our present Inquiry. But, :
Secondly, As there is not in all the New Testa. ment any one Passage, which either afferrs or implys,that the Disciples believ'd him to have had any Divine Nature during his Ministry; fo 'tis very remarkable, that the whole Course of our Savior's
that remark the fame Phihan a true p