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h ers; he only reproaches them with chanting hymns in honor of their Christ, and of rendering to him the same homages as to a god.”
It clearly appears from the sacred scriptures and from history that divine honors were given to Christ. There is no evidence that he ever discountenanced the practice.
There is evidence that he approved it. When the early Christians were accused of giving divine worship to Christ they did not deny the charge; but they gave evidence that they esteemed and reverenced him as God.
The character, which the sacred scriptures give to the Son of God entitles him to divine honors. By inheritance he possesses a more excellent name than the angels. The work of creation, the performance of miracles in his own name, the government of all things are attributed to him. He has power to raise the dead, to judge the world, and distribute reward and punishment. Divine perfections are attributed to him; and he manifested the holiness of divine nature. As great works, as great authority, as exalted titles, as much love and excellence, are attributed to the Son as to the Father. If the Father is entitled to love, obedience, and worship, on account of the excellence of his nature, and the communications of his goodness, Christ is entitled to equal love, obedience and worship. It is not an arbitrary act of divine power to require people to honor the Son even as they honor the Father; for Christ, in his own nature and communications, demands this homage.
It cannot justly be denied that the sacred scriptures require divine honors to be paid to the Son of God. It cannot be denied that primitive Christians, and Christians in every age, have esteemed and worshipped Christ as God. This esteem and reverence for the Lord Jesus was derived directly from the character which he exhibited, and from the system of religion which he published, and his apostles propagated. The Christian religion was designed to be, and it has been
published, among Jews and Gentiles. One great object of Christianity was to turn them from idolatry to the worship, the spiritual worship, of the only living and true God. When it is considered how prone mankind were to idolatry, it might be expected that the greatest care would be taken to avoid any intimation, which would give the least encouragement to idolatry. If Christ be a mere creature; if he be not entitled to divine worship, precaution was not used in the sacred writings against idolatry. On the contrary, they laid its foundation, and gave it an extensive and perpetual patronage.
Christ claimed union with the Father in design and operation. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. He inculcated the duty of honoring the Son even as they honored the Father. He allowed his disciples to call him God. He allowed them to worship him, and he forbade them not. His church has, in every age, acknowledged him to be God, and have worshipped him as God. If this is error, if this is idolatry, Christ is the author of it; the inspired writings support it.
It is true, the sacred scriptures, in certain instances give great limitations to Jesus Christ. He acknowledges that the Father is greater than he; that he is sent by the Father. As Jesus Christ was both human and divine, it is highly probable that he would sometimes speak of one nature, sometimes of the other. When he spoke of his human nature, he would of course speak of it with limitations. If it be just to infer from that class of texts, which attribute limited properties to Christ, that he possesses only human nature, it is equally just to infer from that class of texts, which attribute divine works, names, attributes, and worship to him, that he possesses only divine nature. But this is not a correct method of reasoning. Instead of attempting to make one part of scripture destroy another, care ought to be taken to compare part with part; discover their connexion and object; and if possible discover their coincidence. If it be previously determined that the
divinity of Christ shall not stand, every thing is made to bear against it. The plainest texts are tortured till they unwillingly speak the language of those who use them. If it be admitted that human and divine nature are united in Christ, it is easy to account for those divine ascriptions, which are made to him, while he speaks of himself possessing limited qualities.
The sacred scriptures attribute to the Son divine names, divine attributes, divine offices, divine works, and divine worship. If Christ possessed divine nature, he was entitled to divine honors. If he did not possess divine nature, his works, his titles, his offices could not claim those honors, which are due to the Father. Moses, the other prophets, and the apostles, performed works which required divine power; and they filled high and important offices. Why was not Moses entitled to divine honor for bringing miraculous plagues on the land of Egypt? Why was not Joshua entitled to divine honor for staying the sun and moon in their courses? Why were not the prophets and apostles entitled to divine honor for healing diseases and raising the dead? Because they did not perform these works by their own power. It was the power of God operating through them, which performed these extraordinary works. This they acknowledged. They disclaimed superior excellence. They disclaimed all title to divine honor. Moses was buried in a secret place to prevent the idolatry of the people at his grave. The apostles used the greatest care to ascribe all efficiency in their extraordinary works to God; and to prevent people from giving them divine worship. As well might human qualities be attributed to the instruments we use, as divine qualities be attributed to men for works, which God performed through them.
If Christ performed his works by his own natural power; if his names were significant of his nature; if he
possessed those attributes, which are ascribed to him in the scriptures; if he was competent in his own nature to fill those offices, which he sustained, he had a claim to divine honors. But if he was only constituted Creator; if he was only the medium through which the Father created the world; if divine names and attributes were attributed to him merely because he acted by the influence of the Father, and was appointed, constituted, ordained to the highest offices, he is no more entitled to divine honors than were the prophets and apostles. It is admitted that people are entitled to honor proportionate to their offices, if they be adequate to the duties of their respective stations. But an elevated office does no honor to a man, unless he does honor to the office. Should our government ppoint a minister to a foreign court, who did not possess one qualification for that office, and needed and received mediately or immediately the instructions of the chief magistrate in every step of his proceedings, is such a man entitled to ministerial honor? Ought the foreign court to honor him even as they honored the chief magistrate? By giving him presidential honors, would they honor the chief magistrate of our country? If Christ derived all his qualifications for his offices from the Father, the honor of all his official transactions would be due to the Father, not to him. If he were honored according to his offices, the Father, who established them by his own authority, and filled them with his own fulness would be entitled to greater honor. It would be disproportionate to honor the Son even as they honor the Father. It is not doubted that it is an honor to a chief magistrate to honor his ministers; but it would not be an honor to him to transfer to them the honor, which was due only to himself.
If the Son be inferior in nature to the Father, it is impossible to honor the Father by giving divine honors to the Son. It is in vain to say that those divine honors, which are given to the Son are given ultimately to the Father; that he is the constituted medium, through which God the Father is worshipped; and that he does not receive divine honors for any excellence of his own nature, nor for any acts of his own power. The pagans have ever cherished a sentiment similar to this and they have worshipped accordingly. They appeared to suppose that God was a holy Being and that they had offended him. They, therefore, sought some medium, through which they might pay him their homage and render him propitious. When the heathen worshipped the sun, they did not design that their religious homage should terminate in that luminous body. But they designed to worship it as the most striking image of the Deity; or as the medium, through which he bestowed his greatest blessings. When they worshipped the elements or any of the brutal creation, they imagined that the Deity either resided in them; or that through them he would operate in their favor.
When they worshipped departed spirits, they imagined that they would 'intercede with God for them; and through their influence they should receive divine favors. In all this kind of worship they probably designed to extend their homage ultimately to the Deity; unless it were in some instances, in which they had lived so long in idolatry, and had become so gross in their worship, that they lost sight of the Deity in their similitudes.
God's first command to Israel was to prevent them from having more than one God, and his second was to restrain them from idolatry. If Christ possess not divine nature, if he be only a subordinate Deity, it appears to be no less idolatry to worship him than it is to worship the sun, moon, the host of heaven, the elements, individuals of the brutal creation, or departed spirits.
· Another argument, of no inconsiderable weight in favor of Christ's claim to divine honors, may be drawn from his own words at the institution and celebration of the ordinance of the supper. This do in remembrance of me, Luke 22:19. The design of the Lord's Supper was to keep in remembrance the Lord Jesus