« ZurückWeiter »
It is, I know, objected here, that the worship prescribed in the first commandment is not appropriated to him who immediately spoke the law, that is, to an angel, but to him in whose name the angel spoke it. And it is insisted, that it was an angel, or angels, that spoke it, because St. Paul says, Gal. iii. 19, it was ordained by angels;' and argues, Heb. ii. 3, that the gospel is entitled to higher veneration than the law, inasmuch as the one was spoken by angels, whereas the other was spoken by the Lord himself.
And what then? Is not the Lord, in this very Epistle to the Hebrews, sufficiently distinguished from the angels who spoke the law, and from all other angels, by being set forth, chap. i. 6, as an object of worship to all the angels of God?' Now, is not all worship appropriated to the Lord by the first commandment? And is not Christ the Lord? Does he not take the name of Jehovah, or Lord, to himself? It cannot, surely, be inferred from this passage of Scripture, that he is only a representative; since the passage sets him forth as the principal, and even the objection owns it. If this Arian argument, therefore, does any thing, it only shews that none of the angels, angels I mean by nature, concerned in delivering the law was Christ, but that they were all his inferiors and substitutes; being clearly represented as such, and, as such, distinguished from him in the very place of Scripture referred to. Let no man, therefore, presume to say, because Moses speaks of an angel conducting the Israelites, and interfering at the burning bush, that this angel was Christ; for Christ, it is manifest, was the Lord, or Jehovah, himself, in whose name the law was delivered by the ministry of angels, and who, by that law, restrains all worship to himself. The truth is, had it not been for this argument of St. Paul, though intended for another purpose, it would not have been so easy as it is to prove, against the Arians, that Jehovah, and the angel at the bush, were distinct beings. That Christ was he who gave himself the name of Jehovah at the bush, is plain from John viii. 58. That there was an angel present at the bush, who formed the voice, and delivered the words, in the name of Jehovah, is also plain from Exod. iii. 2. and that this angel was not Christ, is as plain from Heb. ii. 2, 3. where the Lord is clearly distinguished from all the angels employed in the
delivery of the law. But, whatsoever part the angel is supposed to have acted at the bush, or in the delivery of the law, it is certain Jehovah speaks the ten commandments in his own person, and confines all worship to himself. Now, granting that the angel delivered these commandments to Moses, and even that he wrote them on the two tables of stone, against the express words of Scripture; Exod. xxxi. 18. yet all men must own they are the very words of Jehovah himself, as truly and properly as those which the prophets wrote, when they said, Thus saith the Lord.'
After all that hath been said, it may seem almost superfluous to insist, that Christ is set forth in Scripture as the true, the proper, the only object of adoration, he having, as was observed, appropriated all worship to himself by the first commandment. However, I will, for this purpose, just remind you of two or three passages. St. Paul, in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, applies these words of the ninety-seventh Psalm to Christ: Let all the angels of God worship him.' If the angels worship him, surely we must; for to them and us there is but one God.' St. Paul tells us, in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Philippians, that' at the name of Jesus every knee must bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.' And Christ himself, as you may read, Rom. xiv. 11, compared with Isa. xlv. 22, 23, appropriates all adoration to himself: 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.' As not only we, but the whole creation, is in duty bound to adore our blessed Saviour, we accordingly find, Apoc. v. that when this Lamb of our salvation, who stood in the midst of the throne, had opened the book which none else was able to read, 'the four beasts, and the four-and-twenty elders that were about the throne, fell down before the Lamb,' and sung his praises in a hymn re-echoed by all the hosts of heaven, and continued, as represented already, from the second of the Epistle to the Philippians, by 'every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, saying, Blessing, and honour, and
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.'
Hence you see, that incommunicable worship, that glory which God will not give to another, is prescribed and given to Christ and that it is the same, in kind and degree, with that which is paid to the Father, is evident; because Christ says, 'The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;' John v. 22, 23. and because, as you may perceive by the passage just cited from the Revelation, the worship paid' unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb,' is one individual act of worship offered at the same instant and expressed in the same terms. The united practice of every creature, not only on earth, and under the earth, but even in heaven itself, round the throne, and before the face of God, is surely a sufficient comment, if they needed it, on all the assertions of our Saviour's divinity, hitherto quoted from holy Scripture. Here is practice, to put speculation out of question. Practice generally follows faith; but here it follows the beatific vision in heaven, and leads the way to our faith on earth, that there may be no possibility of mistaking. You see there can be no Arians, no Socinians, no subordinate worshippers, in heaven. There the angels, the archangels, the principalities, the powers, the dominions, the thrones, are all orthodox Christians; all honour the Son as they honour the Father,' in one united hymn, paid, without distinction, without subordination, equally to both. There they do not worship the Son only as the representative of the Father. The Father himself is visibly present, as well as the Son, and both on one throne receive the adoration of the whole universe.
I have now gone through with such proofs of our Saviour's divinity as the time would permit. And here let me ask you, what arguments on the other side are sufficient to make us doubt or deny this article of faith? If the Holy Ghost had said but once, 'Christ is God,' surely nothing but an equal authority, saying the contrary, should in reason, be allowed to shake our faith in his divinity. But where in the holy Scriptures is this flat contradicting proposition, 'Christ is not God,' to be found? Or in what other Bible are
we to look for it? Are our own reasonings, so apt on all occasions to deceive us, to serve instead of it? or are we to trust to consequences drawn, by our own fallible understandings, from passages that say no such thing in terms, but seem, by a long chain of subtle inferences, to point to it, against the positive testimony of one such plain affirmative, that needs no comment? Surely one proof of this nature ought to outweigh ten thousand deductions. But, if one ought not, will not so many repeated passages, all concurring to affirm the same thing, preponderate? Or, if even this will not do, you ought at least to be convinced by those places that prove the point by negatives; such as where Christ himself says, 'There is no God besides me;' Thou shalt have none other gods before me.' He who says Christis the Word, and the Word is God,' says enough. But Christ says a great deal more, when he says these words: 'I am the First and the Last, and besides me there is no God.' What argument, that requires to be helped out by our own reasonings, can be set over against this in the balance of a sound judgment, already convinced that Christ is truth itself?
You may observe I have chosen to multiply plain proofs for our Saviour's divinity from Scripture, rather than to spend the time in accommodating to my purpose such as were less plain, by a precarious comment of my own; as also, that I have endeavoured to clear the point chiefly by quoting passages from the New Testament, repeating, or referring to, others in the Old, whereby every such proof acquires the force of two; and, besides, hath the immense advantage of an application and comment made by an interpreter who could not err.
While I was doing this, I observed, what never occurred to me before, that the strongest proofs, and those in the greatest number, nay, those in which Christ's dignity is carried highest, are conveyed in this way. And the reason why the apostles took that method, seems to be this: The unconverted Jews could not easily digest, either from their Master or them, the plain assertions of his divinity in terms of their own. To avoid this obstruction, the apostles chose to assert it in the words of the prophets, whom their readers. implicitly believed, and highly reverenced; by this means delicately grafting this doctrine, otherwise so startling, on
the faith they had already received, and thereby at the same time strongly and clearly exhibiting the close connexion between the two dispensations. They shewed, by the miracles they wrought, that they were inspired; and consequently, had a right to be heard when they delivered themselves in words unheard before; and therefore they do frequently assert their Master's divinity in expressions not found among the prophets. But, if their miraculous powers ought to have given them credit on such occasions, they ought, for the same reason, to give weight to their comments, and applications of the prophets, inasmuch as it was evidently the same Spirit that both dictated and applied the prophecy. When, therefore, the apostles brought the authority of the prophets in aid of their own, they seemed to reason with a double force. Hence, perhaps, may be best explained what St. Peter says in the Second Epistle, after pleading a miracle; We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well that you take heed.' Not that prophecy is a surer test of truth than a miracle, for it is but a miracle; but that the concurrence of both a prophecy and a miracle give stronger testimony than a miracle alone, because it carries with it the efficacy of two miracles; and, if there was a preconception in favour of the prophecy, this too must have its effect.
It cannot be denied, but that the writers of the Old Testament, being obliged perpetually to inculcate the worship of one only God on the minds of the Israelites, and to deter them from that of all false gods, are every where full, strong, and precise, on this subject, expressing the majesty of the one true God in great and glorious terms, and vilifying the false and pretended gods in such words and phrases as carry with them the utmost contempt. Here every thing appears in favour of the unity. Now, when the same Spirit that inspired the Old Testament, makes use, in dictating the New, of such passages therein, as set forth, with the utmost elevation of expression, the majesty of the one God, and applies them to Jesus Christ as that one God, surely a Christian can have no doubt of his divinity; for, certainly, whatever a pretended Christian may imagine he hath found out in the New Testament, there is but one God only proposed to our faith in the Old. But the writers of the New