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more directly designed to convey to those who heard them, and in what Sense the People generally could and did understand this Name.
'Tis evident from several Expressions of Christ, that he well knew that his own Words sometimes carried in them a much nobler and sublimer Signification, than barely that which he designed to convey to the Jews, or even to his own Disciples at that Time: As when he says to the Fews, Before Abraham was I am, John 8. 58. And so when he says to his Disciples, John 14. 10. I am in the Father, and the Father in me, they could not know that glorious and sublime Relation of Christ to the
Father, and his intimate Oneness with the Father, which he himself was perfe&tly acquainted with.
My chicf Business in this Discourse therefore is only to show what is the true Idea or Meaning of the Word Son of God, which our Saviour or the sacred Writers designed to convey to their Disciples thro' all Ages and Nations by this Name, and in which 'tis poffible their Hearers could understand them, or we who read the same Words.
And in order to find this Sense of it, let us consider those Texts of Scripture wherein the Belief of Christ to be the Son of God is made the great Requisite in order to Salvation, and a neceffary Ingredient of Christianity. For in these places of Scripture, these two Considerations will offer theniselves, (1.) That
the Sense of these Words must be plain, familiar, and easy to be understood; otherwise it could not be made a necessary Article, or a Fundamental of the Christian Faith. It must have also (2dly) Some apparent Connexion with and Influence into our Salvation, otherwise the Belief of it would not have been made so grand a Requisite in order to be saved ; 'for it is scarce to be imagined that the blessed God would appoint any mere arbitrary and unoperative Speculations to be the Terms of our enjoying his favour. Now, both these Considerations will give us some Assistance toward our finding out the true Sense of this Title.
The Texts of Scripture, wherein a Be- . lief of Jefus to be the Son of God seems to be made the great necessary Term of our Salvation, are such as these. John 3. 18. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God. John 20. 31. These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have Life through his Name. 1 John 5. 13. These things have I written to you that believe on the Name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal Life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the
1 John 4. 15. Whosoever fall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God B 2
Son of God.
dwelleth in him. 1 John 2. 23. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. Aas 8. 37. And Philip said to the Eunuch, if thou believest with all thy Heart, thou mayst be baptized; and he anfwered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: and he baptized him.
Now if believing or not believing Christ to be the Son of God has Salvation and Damnation annexed to it by the sacred Writers, then surely 'tis of considerable Importance to know what this Name means, that we may not include too little in it, and by leaving out some important Part, expose ourselves to that Anathema ; nor include too much in it, and so be tempted to lay our weaker Neighbours under the like Condemnation for want of sufficient Knowledge.
But blessed be God, since it is a Name of such Importance, he has not confined this Name precisely to one single, narrow, abstruse and difficult Idea, but has affixed it to several Ideas in Scripture, that so if we receive it in the most important Senses, we may be secured from the scriptural Condemnation, tho' we should not happen to understand and receive it in all the sublime Senses which may be applied to it.
Let it be noted also, that perhaps the various Imaginations and Reasonings of Men may have affixed more Senses to this Phrase than
Scripture Scripture has ever done: Yet, in order to give this Enquiry a fuller Consideration, we will survey the several Senses which have been usually put upon it; and this shall be the first Argument which I shall use toward the Proof of the true Signification of this Name in the New Testament, i. e. by way of a disjunctive Syllogism, proposing several and excluding some of them.
Sect. I. The first Argument toward the Proof of the Sense of this Name, Son of God.
THIS Name, Son of God, hath been fup
posed to be given to our Lord Jesus Christ upon some or all of these five accounts. (1.) Because of an eternal and unconceivable Generation by the Person of the Father in the Sameness of the Divine Effence.
(2.) Because of the glorious Derivation of his human Soul from God before the Creation of this World. (3.) Because of his Incarnation or coming into this World by an extraordinary Conception, and Birth of a Virgin without an carthly Father, by the immediate Operation of God. (4.) Because of his Resurre&tion from the Dead, and high Exaltation. (5.) In order to point out that glorious Person who had in general fome sublime and fingular Refation to God, and who also was to sustain the Cha
racter and Office of the Mesiab, the Saviour of the World.
I. The first of these Senses is patronized by many Writers, viz. That an eternal unconceiveable Generation of the Person of the Son by the Person of the Father in the Sameness of the Divine Essence, consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father, is included in the Name SON OF GOD.
But I am persuaded this can never be the Sense of this Name in those several Texts before cited : They can never signify, that it is necessary to Salvation to believe Christ to be the eternal Son of God as a distinct Person in the same Divine Elence, proceeding from the Father by such an eternal and incomprehensible Generation. For,
1. If this be never so true, yet it is confest to be unconceiveable. Now, if it be so very unconceiveable, so mysterious and sublime a Doctrine, then I do not think the gracious God would put such a difficult Test upon the Faith of young Disciples, poor illiterate Men and Women, in the very Beginning of the Gospel, and exclude them from Heaven for not believing it.
2. Nor indeed is this eternal Generation and consubstantial Sonship clearly enough revealed in Scripture for us to make it a fundamental Article in any Age, and to damn all who don't receive it. I cannot fee Evidence enough in the Word of God to make