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in the context there is an express and animated representation of benefits derived to us through Jesus Christ, or to be communicated at his appearance, yet there is no reference to the principle which X. Y. Z. conceives to lie at the foundation of love to Christ. The apostle insists upon the resurrection of Christ, and on his appearance again, but as to his coming into this world, from a prior and more exalted state of being, he is silent about it.
Thus we have placed together, in one connected view, all that is said in the New Testament concerning this duty, the love of Christ, except one passage: in which there is an ambiguity; but an ambiguity that doth not affect this argument, but only makes it uncertain to which class of texts, in our arrangement, it belongs ; whether to those that speak of the affection of Christ towards us, or of ours towards him. It is in 2 Cor. v. 14. 15. The love of Christ constraineth us: because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead : and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again. But which ever way the language of the apostle, in the first clause, is explained, the following clauses amply state the ground, on which the sentiments of love and gratitude to Christ were felt and cultivated : This is no other, than his dying for us.
On the survey of the whole, it is remarkable, that the love of Christ is, in every passage, represented
and enforced without any regard to, and totally independent of, the consideration of his having left a former state, and relinquished any prior glory. I should conceive therefore, that if strict Unitarian principles have any “ tendency to abate the love and
reverence which have hitherto appeared to X. Y. Z. “ to be due to Jesus Christ,” it must proceed not from these principles themselves, but from the association, that has long existed in his mind, being dissolved by embracing those principles. The texts we have enumerated, exhort and persuade to the love of Christ on principles very distinct and remote from the idea of his pre-existence in circumstances of great power and glory. These principles are therefore to be deemed the just, sufficient, and indeed only scriptural grounds of that affection. If they do not beget and cherish lively sentiments of love and gratitude to Jesus Christ, the defect must be, not in the principles, but in the mind; which, having but lately received them, doth not yet feel the full force of them.
It often strikes me, that Arian christians are so accustomed to consider the character and condescension of Christ, in connexion with their idea of his former dignity ; they are so habituated to ascribe in a' manner, all the merit and excellence of his benevolence to his quitting that dignity, that they seem to overlook the condescensions and humility of his deportment, “the benevolent part which he acted on earth,” and his dying for us ; on which last great 62
instance of his friendship, as we have seen, the scriptures lay the stress ; and the consideration of which they exhibit, detached by itself, without representing it as deriving its merit from a contrast with his former glory. Upon the Arian scheme it should seem, Christ cannot be supposed to look upon death with the sentiments and feelings of a man.
He must have been a stranger to the natural love of life; to that strong attachment to the present state of being, of which we are conscious: for the continuance of life would present to him nothing worthy the desire of sɔ exalted a being. To die, in his case was, on that scheme, to resume his dignity ; to be delivered from the body, which he had assumed. Under these circumstances, what self-denial, what sacrifice could it be in Hin, to give up his life?
Should it be urged, that to represent the benevolence as principally consisting in his submission to the death of the cross, without taking in the consideration cf his prior glory, is to reduce his benevolence to a level with that of many other men, who have willingly met death in its worst forms, for the sake of truth and human happiness; it may, in reply, be asked, when this argument is brought forward, is not what was peculiar to the case of Christ, forgotten? Is it not forgotten, that, as he hiniself said, when he was apprehended, he could have “ prayed to “ his Father, and thereupon he would have sent le“ gions of angels to rescue him :" that “no man
66 took his life from him, but that he laid it down “ of himself?" These expressions denote that Christ was not a mere passive instrument: but that he acted in his great character with a benevolent design, and preferred the accomplishing the kind purposes of it, in the fullest extent, to the preservation of his life, though he could have preserved it with honour and piety; though he could have procured a supernatural, consequently a glorious, interposition in his favour.
The remark of X. Y. Z. with respect to the use Christ made of his miraculous powers, viz. “That “ it cannot be on any ground supposed, that the same divine
would have attended Christ “ on the supposition of its having been possible for “ him to have attempted the application of it to any
purpose, directly opposite to those for which it “ was bestowed;" and his more general observation, “ I cannot suppose, that our Saviour had it in his
power to have defeated the purposes of infinite “ wisdom, by which he was continually directed.” These remarks, I apprehend, may be retorted and applied with equal force to the Arian sentiment. On that scheme, he was in actual possession of glo. ry and power, more than human or angelic, before the world was; which the counsels of divine benevolence required him, for a time, to relinquish and lay aside. Had he it in his power to counteract those purposes, by declining to assume a body, and to go through the various trying scenes, with which his G 3
life and death would be attended? Or if he were a voluntary agent in relinquishing this dignity, why ought he not to be considered as equally so in declining to avail himfelf of his miraculous powers to answer any purposes of ambition, and in giving up his life for mankind?
For though he did not by his own power perform the works, but his Father, who was with him, did thein : : yet the consciousness of such an energy attending him, the consciousness that God “ heard “him always," was to one, who was in all points tempted like as we are, a strong temptation to pride and ambition. The effects, the glorious displays, of this energy gave him an amazing influence, which was in itself a powerful temptation to swerve from the great ends of his mission. But he was superior to these snares ; and, in this view, have not his selfdenial, humility, and death, singular merit* ? In a word, on the Arian or Unitarian scheme, Christ was as really a voluntary agent in the execution of the divine purposes, as are any of us in the common spheres of life. The merit and glory of an agent, acting from motives of benevolence, freely embarking in a great and noble design, and, in the prosecution of it, meeting with reproach, poverty, sufferings, and death, are justly to be given to him ; and bring us under the obligations of love and gratitude.
* See these thoughts pursued and illustrated with great force, by the excellent Dr. Price, in his Sermons, p. 357–360.