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A few words in relation to the phrase 'Son of Man' seem necessary. 1. Jesus commonly applied this title to himself. 2. It is never given him by the evangelists. 3. He is never thus addressed by any one, whether disciples or strangers.
Our Lord denominated himself thus when, at the very time, he prohibited his disciples from acquainting any man that he was the Messiah. He is called 'Son of God' and · Son of David,' both of which may be supposed to imply an acknowledgment of him as the Messiah. The term Son of man was not in our Lord's time considered as a title of the Messiah, or even a title of particular dignity. It was an humble title, in which nothing was claimed but what was enjoyed in common with all mankind.*
We come now to inquire why Jesus is called a Son. We have seen that the common and ordinary title by which he styled himself was Son of man. A Very good writer, speaking of this peculiarity in the life of Jesus, says, 'Most certainly he did this for good reasons. The critics assign, but studiously omit the great, and perhaps the only reason why Christ so often called himself the Son of man, which was, undoubtedly, to prevent the idolatrous notions and practices of his followers in succeeding ages. He, well knowing the great proneness of all nations to deify their heroes, and being sent of God to reform the Jewish nation, and the heathen world, overrun with gross idolatry, set himself to preach up the necessity of a general repentance, a conversion from all kinds of false worship to the worship of the
* See the Four Gospels. By GEORGE CAMPBELL. Dis. v. part iv. sec. 13.
one true and living God in spirit and truth, and a hearty and sincere obedience to his laws; which, indeed, were the true and only means of setting up the spiritual kingdom of the Most High God amongst all mankind.'
We suppose the reason why Jesus is called a Son, is on account of the 'nearness existing between him and the Father. A oneness and a harmony were there which no language can describe, and which no earthly relation will illustrate. The Son frequently presented this great truth: 'I and my Father are one.'* 'I do nothing of myself,' said the Son, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.'t This is beautifully veiled under the figure of the Vine: 'I am the true Vine. My Father is the Husbandman. As the vine is dependent on the soil, so did the Son consider himself dependent on his Father. What a perfect conformity was exhibited by the Son to the will of the Father! It was seen in every prayer. It was acknowledged in every miracle. Behold him in the garden of Gethsemane! 'Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.'I In what an interesting light does the Son appear in this agonizing scene!
What a petition ! Oh that in affliction I might breathe this prayer to the Father ! Then how calm and placid would the soul remain even during the most trying scenes on earth. Oh
* John x. 30.
| Ib. viii. 28, 29.
| Luke xxii. 42–44.
that we could see the spirit of the Son of God in our midst. But, alas ! the world has never reached that high standard! Go, follow him as he sends the multitude away, and retires into the desert for prayer. There, when the cold midnight dews were descending and the world was hushed in sleep, the Son was holding communion with the Father. See him at the baptism, as he 'went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And when the Greeks desired to see Jesus, the Son said, 'Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.'* But it is impossible to enumerate the instances where the Father glorifies the Son. We see in every act, in every word, and in the whole life of the Son, a beautiful conformity to the will of the Father. We behold a mingling and blending of characters that command our admiration and call forth our love.
There is a great moral truth connected with this subject. If we become like the Son of God, then we are distinguished by the Father as his sons. St. John has brought out this truth in a striking manner: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth
* John xii. 20—30.
+ Those who would wish to see some able remarks on the title “Son of God' in connexion with the Unitarian controversy, would do well to consult the Christian Reformer for July, 1836, pp. 621, 860 ; an Eng. lish periodical of great merit.
not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.'* 'For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.'t 'But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.'I Through faith in his name, I am as truly a son of God, and united to him as my Father, as the Lord Jesus is the Son of God. And are we sons of God? Do we manifest the disposition of obedient children towards our Father in heaven? Do we love our enemies, bless those that curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use us? If not, then we are not sons of God in a high,
moral sense. What was the great errand of the Son into our world? We find this question answered long before his birth, by the Father himself: 'I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.'S When he comes, he says expressly, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.'|| And this is the Father's will, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.'1 From these passages, we learn something of the greatness of the work to be accomplished by the Son of God. And that such a work will be finished, is evident; for the Son said, just as he was going home to the Father, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.'* That he has sufficient wisdom, is evident. His whole ministry proved him to be equal to any emergency. He could weigh all the motives by which the heart was influenced; for ‘he knew what was in man.' So certain did the Apostle consider the mission of the Son, that, in speaking of the subjection of all things, he excepts but one being in the whole universe, and that is God himself! We give his own words, and with them we close; for where can we end better than in the very midst of the theme of the subjection of all things to the Son of God? 'For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.'t
* 1 John iii. 2.
Psa. ii. 7, 8.
† Rom. viii. 14.
# John i. 12.