« EdellinenJatka »
BY HIS PROVIDENCE.
339 diate connection with the declaration, that by the Son of God the worlds were created. It must, therefore, I think, be allowed, that, within a very short compass, they contain a sublime description of that divine nature which maintains all things, visible and invisible, in their right order, which fills, supports, and animates, created things—which controuls and regulates the universe of God.
VI. Since Jesus Christ, in his reign, rules over the church, and over all the creatures of God-since he exercises, over the souls of men, a moral and spiritual government—since he converts and pardons the sinner, and sanctifies the believer- since he dispenses those personal endowments by the use of which the church is edified—and since he regulates not only the church, but even the universe, by his providence,-it appears to follow, as a necessary consequence, that he is a proper object of prayer, glorification, and all devout affiance and allegiance. Now, the inference, which I thus venture to deduce from our premises, is distinctly supported by various passages in the New Testament. We have scriptural authority for asserting that the earliest Christians were distinguished as a peculiar people, by this very circumstance—that they were accustomed to call on the name of Jesus. When Ananias was pleading with our Lord, respecting the newly-converted Paul, he said, “ Here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name;" (Acts ix, 14;) by which significant expression, he obviously intended to describe all the Christians of the place or district. The same terins are adopted by Paul himself, who addresses his first epistle to the Corinthians, not only to the church of Corinth, but to all the Christians—" to all that, in
JESUS CHRIST, IN HIS REIGN,
every place, call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" i, 2. So, also Rom. x, 9–14; II Tim. ii, 22. Now since the phrase rendered to call upon the name of a person is frequently employed in the Greek Scriptures, (especially in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament) and uniformly signifies to offer up prayers to that person, and thus to invoke his assistance-since, indeed, the words admit of no other fair interpretation—the passages now cited afford an evidence, incidental indeed, but not on that account the less irresistible, that it was the custom of the apostles and their followers to offer up their prayers to Jesus Christ, the king of glory.
As the earliest Christians received, from the circumstance of their praying to Jesus Christ, what may be regarded as one of their distinctive denominations, so are there recorded, in the Acts and the Epistles, certain plain instances of their practising this duty.
Soon after the ascension of our Lord, his disciples assembled together in order to appoint an apostle in the room of Judas; and having selected Joseph and Matthias, from those who had companied with them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst them, “ they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by
4 & mira e Jan To ovoua, To call upon the name : vide Trommii Conc. Sept. Ver. 0. T., Schmidii Conc. N. T., Schleusner in voc., Grotii Com., Rosenmülleri Schol. in locos citatos, fc. I conceive, that ¿Tiradio Jai, in this phrase, is used according to the true theory of the middle verb; and signifies to invoke God on one's own account. Had the verb been passive, we should probably have read tớ óvóuaTi rather than To ovoud, as in Sept. Esa. xliii, 7. Pliny the Younger, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, (circa A.D. 110) informs the Emperor, that the Christians of Bithynia were accustomed to sing hymns to Christ as to a God—“ quod essent soliti ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem :" lib. x, ep. 97. 5 Greek, &rina NOÚLevov nad Néyoutu. Vide Schleusner in voc., No. 5.
IS A PROPER OBJECT
transgression fell, that he might go to his own place :" Acts i, 21–25. Now, since the disciples had so lately been beholding the glorious ascension of their master
-since, while he was ascending, they had already been engaged in worshiping him—since, in the context of this passage, as well as in the book of Acts generally, the title Lord is appropriated to Jesus, and since the choice of the apostles plainly belonged to his peculiar office in the Christian economy, (John XV, 16; Eph. iv, 11)-it seems a reasonable and almost inevitable, inference, that this prayer was addressed to the Son of God.
We read that Stephen, when on the point of martyrdom, saw “ the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God;" and while his persecutors were stoning him, he prayed, saying," “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ; and he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge:” Acts vii, 56–60.
When, in their epistolary salutations, the apostles invoked the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ on the churches which they were addressing, they virtually called upon his name, and made him the object of their prayers: see Rom. i, 7; II John 3; Rev. xxii, 21, &c. Lastly, of his own prayers to Christ, the apostle Paul, in particular, has related a defined and memorable instance. “ There was given to me,” says he to the Corinthians, “a thorn in the flesh; the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is
made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me:" II Cor. xii, 7-9.
Such was the practice of the apostles, and other early disciples, of the Lord Jesus—to their risen and glorified Master they did not hesitate to address their petitions. And such also was their doctrine, as appears to be evinced by the following passage of the first Epistle of John: “ These things,” says the apostle to the catholic church, “ have I written unto 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 Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us ; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him:" I John v, 13—15.
. Finally, it is the Lamb, before whom, in the Revelation, the four living creatures and the four-and-twenty elders are represented, by the same apostle, as falling down in the act of worship, “ having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints :" Rev. v, 8.7
6 Και αύτη εστίν ή παρρησία ήν έχομεν προς αυτόν, ότι εάν τι αιτώμεθα κατά το θέλημα αυτού, ακούει ημών και εάν οίδαμεν ότι ακούει ημών, και αν αισώμεθα, οίδαμεν, ότι έχομεν τα αιτήματα α ήτήκαμεν παρ' αυτού.
7 I have reason to believe, that pious and orthodox Christians have sometimes been discouraged from offering up their petitions to the omnipresent Redeemer of men, by our common English version of John xvi, 22, 23. “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” Now, the original of verse 23 is as follows: Kai šv šasívn rñ mégą zuż oùn égwThoete où dév..........őon är airhonte rdv Tatéga v TQ óvólari jou, duosi irwv; and a slight inspection of the Greek terms here employed, will, I believe, suffice to remove the apparent difficulty. The distinction between airéoual and égwTáw is lost in our version, but it is nevertheless very important. 'Astéomar is “ I ask,” in the sense of “ I pray.” 'Egwráw, though capable of the same meaning, more commonly signifies, “ I ask
As Jesus Christ, in his reign, is a proper object of prayer, so is he also to be worshiped with praise, thanksgiving, and glorification. To him we are commanded “to sing, and make melody," in our "hearts :" Eph. v, 19, 20. The apostles regarded their Saviour as the Lord of Glory; (I Cor. ii, 8; James ii, i ;) and, therefore, in the very words which, on other occasions, they applied to the Father, they did not hesitate to ascribe to him “glory for ever and ever;" (II Tim. iv, 18; Heb. xiii, 21 ;) « praise and dominion for ever and ever:" I Pet. iv, 11, comp. Gal. i, 5; I Pet. v, 11, &c. But the glorification of Christ is a duty which is far indeed from being confined to the militant church on earth. The innumerable company of angels praise him, and all creation hallows him. “ And I beheld,” says the apostle John in the Revelation, “and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders ; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ; saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb 'that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing,
questions ;" and the true version of the passage I conceive to be, “And in that day ye shall ask me no questions. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall request of the Father in my name, he shall give it you.” That égwTMOETé here signifies, “ ye shall ask questions," is amply evinced by the context; for the whole of our Lord's doctrine, on this occasion, was an answer to the questionings of his disciples, (see ver. 17); and his discourse is introduced in verse 19th, as follows: “Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him”_gwrģv aúróv. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the apostles were to be themselves more fully illuminated. They were to have no more questions to ask of their Master. In answer to their prayers in his name, they were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this gift was to be all-sufficient for their information and direction : so Schleusner, Rosenmüller, Kuinoël, Whitby, fc.