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ON THE NATURE AND LOVE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST;
AND ON LOVE TO HIM.
$ 1. THERE are few more impressive proofs of human
depravity, than the general indifference of mankind to subjects of everlasting moment; and the contempt of the world for the happy few who are warmly devoted to the Saviour. Zeal in other pursuits is admired, zeal for the gospel is despised. Yet will real Christians triumph in their Redeemer's cross, and most admire and most love those grand glories of the gospel, for attachment to which, the world most ridicules and despises them. No name is so dear to them as that name which shall endure for ever; no part of Christianity so prized as that which is to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the wise of this world foolishness. The glowing fervours of a poet's language express the sober feeling of their hearts.
“ Religion, thou the soul of happiness,
Thou, my all!
The grand morality is love to thee!" Such regard to the Saviour can exist only where exalted views are entertained of his person and offices.
$ 2. In taking a view of a few of the leading arguments that prove that Jesus Christ is God * over all, blessed for ever,
* Inquiries on this subject are not speculative. Correct views upon it affect the heart, and the life. "If Jesus Christ is God, then we perceive how vast was his love, how great are our obligations to him, for taking human nature to save a lost world! How inestimable that heaven to which he would raise us! How deep the depravity, guilt, and misery, from which the Son of God could rescue
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. we may observe that the Scriptures repeatedly assert that he is God, and give him the names and titles of God. us, only by taking human nature and dying for sin! But if we could look on Jesus Christ as merely a man, we should see no more in the love of Jesus Christ than in the love of Paul; and
should discern nothing in what he did, that could peculiarly display the depth of our sinfulness, the worth of the soul, the love of God, or the value of heaven.” Thus this momentous question affects all the branches of religion and religious truth.
Inquiry on this subject is more important in the present than in some past ages. Open infidelity has received a check. Its atrocities in France brought it into disgrace. It therefore in many cases adopts the specious and more imposing form of Unitarianism. It sets aside the infinite evil of vice, the righteous strictness of the divine law, and the lost and undone condition of man, Itremoves, or tries to remove, the fear of future punishment; tells its disciples there is no such being as Satan, and no such place as hell ; or if there be, it is but a purgatory, and when purified by fire, as Priestley taught upon his dying bed, they will rise to heaven. Thus taught, they need not be very solicitous about eternity, nor much concerned about strict morality; for profligate and moral, the pious and the atheist, will find all well at last. They may join in scenes of dissipation; frequent the mask, the ball, and the dissolute playhouse ; love the world and the things of the world ; reject a great part of the divine word; treat Paul as an inconclusive reasoner, and Jesus as a peccable man. What is this system but infidelity under another name?
Perhaps these remarks may be thought uncandid and severe. Let the writer therefore be permitted to add, that to Unitarians, as men, and fellow-citizens, he feels no dislike, but cordial benevolence. Nor are the above remarks de signed to attack them as if all put on Unitarianism as a mask to cover infidelity. Some no doubt do, but many adopt it through the pride of reason, or the blind. ness of the mind, and alas, some (in themselves amiable characters) through the influence of education. It is the system the writer attacks; for he cannot see that it is any part of real candour to describe black as white, or white as black, or to represent the difference as small between them. The two systems of evangelical and modern Unitarian faith are removed as far asunder as the east and the west. If the former is Christianity, the latter is disguised, though, in many instances, not designed, infidelity. This system attacks, with peculiar violence, the divinity and atonement of Jesus. Whilst therefore in many ways Unitarianism endeavours to beguile the young and unsuspecting, it is important for them to be able
to give a reason of their professed belief in the deity of Jesus, and of the hope which rests upon him, as God over all. Let them con. sider that humility of mind is an indispensable requisite for a satisfactory in. vestigation of divine truth. If you wish to be taught of God, you must submit the powers of boasted reason to him. You are to employ those powers to judge of the evidences which prove Christianity a religion from heaven; but when once that conviction is obtained, it then becomes your duty to believe whatever God declares, however incomprehensible; on this obvious principle, that he is acquainted with the truths revealed in his word, infinitely better than his creatures can be. To see men trying the doctrines of revelation, by what they are pleased to term the dictates of reason, and then rejecting divine truths because unable to comprehend them by their insect powers, may remind us of the poet's words :
“ The moles and bats in full assembly find,
“On special search, the keen-ey'd eagle blind.” God leaves the proud to wander in their own delusions, and perish in the folly of their boasted wisdom. He resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the hunible. He knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. If you would know his will you must inquire for truth with child-like simplicity; inust desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. Jesus praised God that he had hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.
If to become one of these babes, in child-like teachableness and simplicity, is too humbling for you, you are no scholar in the school of Christ. Go theo, and “Indian-like, " adore your idol reason. Go, join the upstart ranks of the wise, and compliment each other on your wisdom, and on your superiority to the credulous crowd, who are so simple as to suppose that God knows his own zature better than they. Go spread your philosophic cobwebs; like other cobTHE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.
“ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That Jesus Christ is here webs, they will last their hour ; but remember the rough hand of death will sweep you and them to destruction together; and heaven will pour down eternal blessings on the babe in Christ, whom you despise, when notwithstanding all your fancied worth and wisdom, it has no blessing left for you. It is acknowledged that this is a subject replete with mystery. The Scriptures plainly declare that there is but one God. On their authority this is to be believed.
The Scriptures, as plainly as they assert that the Father is God over all, assert that Jesus Christ is God, and represent the Holy Spirit as God. How the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are in some respects distinct, and yet but onie God, it is not for man to explain. But this forins no objection to its truth. What is there that is not mysterious to man? Let some philosopher, that denies the divinity, of Jesus, because he cannot comprehend how the Father and the Son can be but one God, tell us of some object in nature that is not mysterious, before he rejects the Scriptures for describing a mysterious God.
A blade of grass contains inysteries that no philosopher can unravel. Should the nature of the Creator of the universe be less mysterious than that of a blade of grass? Look at yourself; you are a world of mysteries. What is your body? You cannot answer. What is your spirit? You are still more unable to reply, and can no more comprehend your own spirit, than you can the God of heaven. How does spirit act on matter? your limbs move at the direction of your mind?
Still you can give no satisfactory statement. You are ingulfed in mystery. Does your nature consist of a body and a spirit merely, or do a body, an animal soul, and an immortal spirit, unite in you? Even this you cannot answer, nor tell whether you yourself are compounded of two, or of three, distinct parts or principles. Let man then comprehend and explain his own nature before he endeavours to unfold that of the infinite God; then it will be soon enough to listen to the Unitarian's arguments against the divinity of Jesus, because it is a subject fraught with mystery.
Aneloquent passage from Skelton, a writer comparatively little known, shall conclude this long note.
" As to the doctrine of the Trinity, it is even more amazing than that of the Incarnation : prodigious and amazing as it is, such is the incomprehensible nature of God, that I believe it will be extremely difficult to prove from thence, that it cannot possibly be true. The point seems to be above the reach of reason, and too wide for the grasp of human understanding. However, I have often observed, in thinking of the eternity and immensity of God; of his remaining from eternity to the production of the first creature, without a world to govern, or a single being to manifest his goodness to; of the motives that determined him to call his creatures into being; why they operated when they did, and not before; of his raising up intelligent beings, whose wickedness and misery he foresaw; of the state in which his relative attributes, justice, bounty, and mercy, remained through an immense space of duration, before he had produced any creatures, to exercise them towards; in thinking, I say, of these unfathomable matters, and of his raising so many myriads of spirits, and such prodigious masses of matter, out of nothing; I am lost, and astonished, as much as in the contemplation of the Trinity. There is but a small distance in the scale of being between a mite and me; although that which is food to me is a world to him, we mess, notwithstanding, on the same cheese, breathe the same air, and are generated much in the same manner; yet how incomprehensible must my nature and actions be to him! He can take but a small part of me with bis eye at once; and it would be the work of his life to make the tour of my arm: I can eat up his world, immense as it seems to him, at a few meals: hé, poor reptile! cannot tell but there may be a thousand distinct beings, or per sons, such as mites can conceive in so great a being. By this comparison I find myself
vastly capacious and comprehensive; and begin to swell still bigger with pride and high thoughts; but the moment I lift up my mind to God, betwech whom and me there is an infinite distance, then I myself become a mite, or something infmitely less; I shrink almost into nothing. I can follow him but one or two steps in his lowest and plainest works, till all becomes mystery, and matter of amazement, to me. How, then, shall I comprehend himself How shall I understand his nature? or account for his actions? In these, he plans for a boundless scheme of things, whereas I can see but an inch before
(a) John i. 1.
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST ARGUED spoken of is clear from a following verse. " And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. “ They shall call his name Immanuel, that is, God with us. Jesus Christ therefore is God with us. Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever."c
The Father is represented as addressing Christ as God. “ Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." While the Father pronounces him God, God possessed of an everlasting dominion, shall we hesitate to acknowledge him divine ?
Christ is called the true God. “ We are in him that is true, and in his Son Jesus Christ; this (or he) is the true God and eternal life.” That the person here called the true God is Jesus Christ, is evident not merely from the natural import of the passage, but from chap i. ver. 2. of this epistle, where Chirst is called “ that eternal life that was with the Father, and was manifested to us.”
Christ is called the great God, and the mighty God : “ Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,"f It is Christ, and not the Father, who will appear as the Judge of the world; consequently as the appearing of Christ is that of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ is here declared to be the great God.
“ Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, (or, The Father of the everlasting age,) The Prince of Peace.”g These are titles which no mere mortal could sustain. Yet if Jesus were merely a man, there is no more reason for applying them to him, than to Moses or Elijah.
Christ is called the Lord or Jehovah. This is God's inme. In that he contains what is infinitely more inconceivable, than all the wonders of his creation put together; and I am plunged in astonishment and blindness, when I attempt to stretch my wretched inch of line along the immensity of his Nature. Were my body so large, that I could sweep all the fixed stars, visible from this world in a clear night, and grasp them in the hollow of my hand ; and were my soul capacious in proportion to so vast a body; I should, notwithstanding, be infinitely too narrow-minded to conceive his wisdom, when he forins a fly: and how then should I think of conceiving of himself? No; this is the highest of all impossibilities. His very lowest work checks and represses my vain contemplations; and holds them down at an infinite distance from him. When we think of God in this light, we can easily conceive it possible, that there may be a Trinity of Persons in his nature." (6) Matt, i. 23. (c) Rom. ix. 5. (d) Heb. i. 8. (e) 1 John v. 20. ) Tit. ii. 13.
(g) Isa, ix. 6.
FROM THE NAMES HE BEARS.
37 communicable name. He says, “ I am Jehovah ;* that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another.” This name, the peculiar title of the eternal God, is freely applied to Christ. “ This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord (Jehovah) our righteousness." i
“ The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the
way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God."k In each of the four gospels, it is asserted that the person here spoken of, as a voice crying in the wilderness, was John the Baptist. Since John came as a messenger, to prepare the way for Jesus Christ, he, in this celebrated prophecy, is called Jehovah. This view of the passage is further confirmed by the language of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias. “ Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before him (the Lord their God) in the spirit and power of Elias."
That Jesus is called Jehovah is further evident from observ. ing that the glory of the Lord (Jehovah), which Isaiah saw, was the glory of Christ. “ In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord (Jehovah), sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the Seraphim; and one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts! the whole earth is full of his glory."
St. John refers to the 9th and 10th verses of this chapter, (John xii. 40.) and then, speaking of Christ, adds, These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. It was the glory of the Lord of hosts, and of no other person, which the prophet saw; and yet St. John says, that be then saw the glory of Christ, and spake of him. Consequently Christ is the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts.
Thus in the plain, unperverted language of Scripture, is Jesus Christ represented as God, as the true God, the great God, the mighty God, Jehovah, as God over all blessed for ever, and even as addressed as God by the Father. If, as the Unitarians assert, Christ were no more than man, how dark, confused, and unintelligible would that holy volume appear ! Instead of being a sure guide, none would be more uncertain. If Christ were but man, to worship him would be idolatry,
(h) Isa, xlii. 8. (i) Jer. xxii. 6. (k) Isa. xl. 3. (1) John i. 23. Matt, iii. 3. Mark i. 2. Luke iii. 4. (m) Luke i. 16, 17.
(n) Isa. vi. 3. : The English reader of the Scriptures may observe, that when the word Jehovah occurs, and is translated the Lord, it is printed in small capitals.