« PreviousContinue »
pears plainly from his Institutes,' from his Dictionary,' his Expositions of our Saviour's sufferings in the garden and on the cross, in his Wesleyan Catechism,' and in his sermon itself, from which the author of the Essay claims to receive such decided support. Mr. Watson, in his remarks preliminary to those quoted by the author of the Essay in his appendix, holds this language concerning the sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ :
'1. It was the offering of a human being; and as the judicial infliction of death upon a man marks the commission of an offenue which justice declares to be capital, so the death of Christ, considering him simply as á man, shows a justice in the visitation of sin, as much greater as human life is above the life of irrational animals.
‘2. He was an innocent and spotless man.'— Here the value was heightened.
* 3. But that which carries the value of the offering (the 'human victim,' the 'spotless man,') 'to its true height,—is that it was the blood of Christ,” of the whole and undivided Christ, who was both God and man. For, though a Divine nature could not bleed and die, a Divine person could. This distinction' (between a Divine nature and a Divine person) is to be kept in mind; for the person being one, the acts and sufferings of each nature are the acts and sufferings of the same person; and are spoken of interchangeably. (See Watson's Sermons, vol. i, pp. 382–3.)
The reader will mark well that Mr. Watson says, 'a Divine nature, (either incarnate or unincarnate,) 'cannot bleed and die.' This, he notifies us, is 'to be kept in mind;' and in the very next sentence he says, 'a Divine person can.' He still farther explains, by informing us, that the acts and sufferings of the human nature are those of the Divine person, though they cannot be those of the Divine nature: nothing is more certain, therefore, than that he predicates the impossibility of suffering on the part of the Divine nature, and yet the possibility of suffering on the part of a Divine person, solely on the ground that the Divine nature is sheer Divinity, but that a Divine person contains humanity as well as Divinity; and farther, on the ground occupied in these Strictures, that the suffering, blood, and death of the human nature, in union with the Divine, are properly those of the one Divine person: For,' says Mr. Watson, the person being one,' (though containing two natures,) 'the acts and sufferings of each nature are (not the acts and sufferings of each other, but the acts and sufferings of the same person, and are spoken of interchangeably.'
' It is this hypostatical union,' continues Mr. Watson, 'which invests his' (Christ's) 'humanity with that Divine character; so that, by virtue of the personal union, we worship him without idolatry
Thomas touches his very flesh; and yet falls at his feet, and cries, “My Lord and my God!" ! It is this' (the human nature being invested with a Divine character, by the hypostatical union) which gives their mysterious depth to his sufferings,' continues Mr. Watson. And so far was he from assuming that incarnated Divinity suffered, that he doubts whether it would be possible, even by an act of the Divine will itself. “I enter not,' says he, into the question whether the Divine nature could, by a voluntary
act, suffer. That veil is not to be lifted up by mortal speculations.'
The author of the Essay has ventured to 'lift up this veil,' and has frankly conceded to the heterodox of all ages that the sufferings and death of the incarnate Divinity is the only ground on which the sufferings of Christ can merit salvation. That he did not understand or bear in mind Mr. Watson's distinction between a Divine person, including humanity, and a Divine nature, which excludes it, is evident from the fact that what Mr. Watson says concerning the Divine person, he (the Essayist,) understood as applied to the Divine nature. Hence, in his 'Appendix,' he says, After the foregoing Essay was wholly written, I obtained, through a friend, the sight of a volume of sermons, and sketches of sermons, by the Rev. Richard Watson. In Sermon 37th, on “ The Sacrifice of Christ,” I find the main position of the Essay clearly asserted ! Then he goes on to quote, as I have given in part above, what Mr. Watson says about the death of a Divine person. Again, at the close of his extract from Mr. Watson, he adds, 'In the foregoing extracts, the reader will find the main position of the Essay, that the actions and sufferings of Jesus Christ are the actions and sufferings of the God-man; or, as Mr Watson expresses the sentiment, “ The whole undivided Christ, who was both God and man." He will find, also, the same distinction made in reference to suffering between the incarnate and unincarnate Deity.-" Though a Divine nature cannot bleed and die, a Divine person could."-Other points of comparison, or rather sameness, in the sentiments of the two treatises, I need not point out to the reader.' See p. 283 of the July No. of the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review for 1835.
Mr. Watson, it is true, says that the actions and sufferings of Jesus Christ are the actions of the God-man, or of the whole undivided Christ—that is, of the Divine person of our Saviour ; but this is what we all believe ; being quite a different thing from the doctrines of the Essay, that the Divine nature can bleed and die. Mr. Watson's distinction, as to bleeding and dying, is between a Divine nature and a Divine person; but the author of the Essay places it between the same Divine nature in different states ; that is, as in-carnated and un-incarnated. When Mr. Watson speaks of the Divine person, in this place, he includes humanity, and on this ground only considers it capable of bleeding and dying. But the author of the Essay here, as in most other places, confounds the Divine person with the Divine nature ; between which, Mr. Watson says, we should keep in mind a clear distinction.
That when Mr. Watson says, 'For though a Divine nature could not bleed and die, a Divine person could, he did not intend to predicate that as possible of the Divine nature in an incarnate state, of which it was nevertheless incapable as unincarnate, is manifest upon a moment's reflection, from the term 'bleed,' which he affirms as possible of the Divine person. Surely, the author of the Essay himself will not contend that the Divine nature, though incarnate, could ' BLEED' as well as Die! Why, then, should he try to make Mr. Watson maintain such an absurdity? But I have said enough on this passage. It is clear, in and of itself considered; but it is
Vol. VII.-April, 1836. 15
still more so understood in the light of Mr. Watson's lucid remarks on the same subject, as quoted from his other writings.
I think it has been satisfactorily shown that the doctrines of the Essay can receive no support from the Holy Scriptures, from Dr. Clarke, nor from Mr. Watson. I think it has appeared clear, likewise, that the 'main position of the Essay contains many incongruities within itself. On this subject, however, I may have deceived myself, not properly apprehending the subject. If I have, and if I have not rendered the author of the Essay entire justice, I am not sensible of it, and would be sincerely glad to know it.
Here I might close ; but I must be allowed to add some remarks as supplemental, showing the apparent consistency of attaching such dignity, honor, and glory to the Divinely impersonated humanity of Christ, and so much value to his sufferings, blood, and death, as are ascribed to him in the Holy Scriptures.
1st. It appears to me that the difference which exists between a human body without a soul-a lifeless corpse—and that same body in personal union with that soul, will serve to illustrate the disparity which must exist between human nature separated from, and that same nature personally one with the Diviniiy. As an actuating soul constitutes the otherwise lifeless body, a noble human person, so the GODHEAD, dwelling fully in the man Christ Jesus, invested that otherwise mere manhood with the lofty character of • The Mighty God," "The Everlasting Father," "The Prince of peace.
2d. It is possible to form some idea of the difference which ex. isted between mere human nature, and that nature personally identified with the indwelling Divinity, by that elevation of character which men of superior intelligence and moral excellence enjoy over common fools and knaves. What differs one man from another on such grounds but mental qualities? Apply this illustration to the adorable Redeemer. He possessed, within himself, as Godman, all the natural and moral perfections of the eternal Jehovah. Does not this lay the ground for infinite dignity, honor and glory, might and dominion, as well as ample merit? These adorable characteristics of Jesus Christ were not extraneous but inherent properties of his Divine complex person. That kind of afforded grace which is extended to saints' by the outstretched arm of God, implies, it is true, favor with God; but it implies no inherent, personal dignity, merit, &c., but rather absolute dependence. But the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwelt in Christ, so that, as a Divine person, he was self-existent and eternal. Does not this imply dignity, &c. ?
3d. Let us next contemplate Jesus Christ in his official character, as 'King of kings, and Lord of lords. In this exalted and glorious character he represents the dignity, &c., of all over whom he has a right to reign. Does an absolute earthly monarch possess within himself
, regally, the sovereignty, honor, &c., &c., of his whole realm? What is it that invests him with such plenary prerogatives but his kingly office ? Divested of this, he stands on a common level with the peasants of the country. The application of this to the King of kings' is easy. The degree of the dignity, glory, &c., of this Divine personage, is more than commensurate with the
countless myriads of angels, men, and devils, which he governs and controls with sovereign sway, throughout the universe of God. Yes, 'At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and of things in earth, and of things that are under the earth. Before this same 'man Christ Jesus, who shall judge the world in righteousness,' shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. After this grand and awful drama shall close, the righteous armies of heaven shall realize what St. John describes in the Book of Revelation,' fifth chapter, verse 6, to the end : •And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ; saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.'
That the author of the Essay, with his unworthy but sincere friend and brother, together with all the sanctified, may unite in those songs of everlasting triumph, is the prayer of, yours affectionately,
DR. REED AND THE WESLEYAN MAGAZINE.
It will be recollected that Drs. Reed and Matheson, two clergymen of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, made a tour through this country some two years ago, on a pastoral visit to the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches here. They were received with much affection, and treated with acknowledged kindness, by the people. Such exchanges of fraternal visitations between the trans-atlantic branches of the different Christian denominations have become quite common, and tend greatly to unite and harmonize the feelings and operations of the great body of Protestant worshippers throughout the world. In this light we believe the subject is viewed by all enlightened persons who have bestowed a thought upon it. Gentlemen, then, in the capacity of visiters from any denomination in one country to their brethren in another, have uniformly been kindly received by all, and treated with a respect due to them in their official relations. This is as it should be ; and it is much to be regretted that any thing should occur in the prosecution of these friendly interchanges of pastoral visits to interrupt the harmony and good feelings which have hitherto prevailed among all parties. The circumstances, therefore, to which the communications below refer, are the more to be deprecated.
In the Narrative published by these gentlemen, by certain allusions and innuendoes, together with some more tangible declarations, institutions and communities not embraced among the particular objects of their mission, were brought before the public in a light derogatory to their interests and unfriendly to their claims. As this was deemed a gratuitous aggression upon the rights of others, and an assumption on the part of strangers, expressions of dissatisfaction were heard from various quarters. Certain things in the Narrative were reviewed in several periodicals and public journals through the country. As the Methodists had their full share of these oblique notices, the points in which they were implicated were duly examined in the able and plenary review by our predecessor, contained in the January number of this work. Meantime, the Narrative was reviewed in the Congregational Journal in England, and the expressions and allusions calculated to disparage us as a denomination endorsed and approved. The Wesleyan Methodists, understanding better the peculiarities of our institutions, employed their Magazine to correct the errors of the Narrative, and avert the mischief likely to accrue from their publication. Neither party knew at that time any thing of the article in our Quarterly, only that it was supposed the subject had been noticed in it from some comment in the Advocate and Journal, as the destruction of the Book Concern prevented the sending out of the usual copies to Europe. Dr. Reed, on seeing the communication relating to his Narrative in the Wesleyan Magazine, furnished a reply to it for insertion in that work ; and the editor subjoined a series of appropriate remarks. In those remarks the reader will find an ample correction of the Doctor's errors respecting the communications he complains of in the Wesleyan Magazine, and Methodism in general. We give both entire.