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like Adam when he was first created, could have effected our salvation, it would have been a great and undeferved mercy to have vouchsafed the gift; but I think it would pot have required such very strong language as the scripture uses, in describing the gift of the Son of God. The God-man, the whole person of Christ, was sent, came forth from the Father. The manhood was the offering, but the Word of God, poffefsed of the perfections of Deity, was the altar neceffary to fanctify the gift, and to give a value and efficacy to the atonement.
The term begotten, expresses with us the ground of relation between Father and Son, and upon which an only son is the heir of a father. I feel and confefs myself at a loss here. I might take up your time, and perhaps.conceal my own ignorance, by borrow, ing from the writings of wiser and better men than myself, a detail of what have been generally reputed the more prevailing orthodox sentiments on this subject. But I dare not go beyond my own ideas. I shall not, therefore, attempt to explain the phrase eternal generation, because I must acknowledge that I do not clear:y understand it myself.
Long before time began, the purpose of conftituting the Mediator between God and finners; was established in the divine counsels. With reíerence to this, he himself speaks, in the character of the Wisdom of God. The Lord polessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. Then I was by bim, as one brought up with him, rejoicing always before him ; rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were among the fons of men *. If the Word of God had not engaged according to an everlasting and sure covenant, to assume out nature, and to accomplish our salvation, before the earth was formed, he would not have appeared afterwards; for we cannot' with reason conceive of any new determinations arising in the mind of the infinite God; to whom, what we call the past and the future, are equally present. In this sense; (if the expression be proper to convey such a fense) I can conceive that he was the begotten Son of God frony eternity. That is, set up and appointed from eternity for the office, nature, and * Prov. viii. 22, 3t
work, by which, in the fulness of time, he was manifested to men. But if the terms, begotten, or eternal generation, be used to denote the manner of his eternal existence in Deity, Imust be silent. I believe him to be the eternal Son ; I believe him to be the eternal God. And I wish not to exercise my thoughts and enquiries more than is needful, in things which are too high for me.
The scripture, in different places, evidently applies the purport of this phrase--I have begotten thee, to transactions which took place in time. This day, and particularly to two principal events.
Mary, The Holy Ghost Mall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest Mall overshadow thee *; therefore also the holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. So the Apostle, In the fulness of time God sent forth bis Son made of a woman f. And in the passage we are next to consider, When he bringeth his first begotten into the world, he faith, and let all the angels of God worship him, * Luke i. 35.
Gal. iv. 4. 3
2. His resurrection. To this purpose our text is quoted from the second pfalm. The promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the fame to the children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again *; as it is: also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And in another place he teaches us, that he who was of the feed of David, according to the flesh, was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of boliness, by the resurrection from the dead to.
After all, I would remind you, that the best knowledge of the doctrine of the person of Christ, that which affords life and comfort to the soul, is to be obtained, not so much by enquiry and study on our part, as by a gracious manifestation on his part. Prayer, attention to the great Feacher, a humble perufal of the scripture, and a course of simple obedience to his known will, are the methods which he has prescribed for our growth in grace, and in the knowledge of himself. Thus even babes are made wise ; while they who are wise and prudent in their own sight, the more they endeavour to * Acts xiii. 32, 33. Rom. i. 4.
investigate and ascertain the sense of fcriptúre, are frequently involved more and more in perplexity. He has given a promise and direction, for the encouragement of those who sincerely seek him. He tkat hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, mall bë loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him *
This is he with whom we have to do. In and by this Son of his love, we have access by faith unto God. Unworthy and helpless in ourselves, from hence we derive our plea ; here we find a refuge ; and on this we rest, and build our hope, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; who is so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they it.
. * John xiv. 21. + Heb. i. 4.