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God; and of course the title, Great God, is given in this text to Jesus Christ. The rules of Greek criticism are so well established that this conclusion is drawn with confidence. See Middleton on the Greek Article. In the second text quoted, there appears to be additional evidence that God and the Savior Jesus Christ are the same. Peter directs his salutation to those, who had obtained like precious faith with themselves through the righteousness of God. Righteousness in this sense and application is repeatedly attributed to Christ; but it is presumed that it is not so applied to the Father exclusively. It is through the righteousness, i. e. the obedience and sufferings of Christ that people receive any Christian grace.
DIVINE ATTRIBUTES ASCRIBED TO CHRIST.
WHO being....the express image of his person. Heb. 1:3. This is predicted of the Son, Jesus Christ, in relation to God the Father. The original is somewhat more expressive. It signifies that he is the character of his (i. e. God's) substance.
All that is known of the nature of a thing is by its qualities. One class of beings is distinguished from another by its different properties. Human nature is known by its distinguishing qualities. Divine nature is known in the same manner. What has human qualities is human nature; and what has divine qualities is divine nature. If it can be shewn that Jesus Christ possesses divine qualities, it consequently follows that
Although Christ possessed human nature; yet there is evidence from the inspired writings that he possessed a nature, which distinguished him from a mere man. Paul, in his salutation to the Galatians, begins thus: "Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ." He inquires, "Do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." The apostle makes a plain distinction between Christ and a man or men. He is therefore understood ascribing to him a nature, which they had not.
The sacred scriptures ascribe eternity to the Lord Jesus. After the apostasy God held intercourse with man, through the medium of his Son. The voice of the Lord God, whom Adam heard walking in the garden, was the Son. It was the Son, who made the covenant with Abraham. It was the Son, who appeared unto Jacob; changed his name, and blessed him. It was the Son, who led Israel out of Egypt; conducted them through the Red Sea; guided and supported them in the wilderness; and led them to the land of promise. All the divine appearances and communications, which are mentioned in the Old Testament, were made by the Son of God. If these exhibitions of himself do not prove his eternity, they prove that he had existence before he was conceived by his mother Mary. It proves that he was more than mere humanity.
Christ saith of himself, "before Abraham was I am." He prayed to the Father, saying, "Glorify thou me with thine ownself, with the glory which I had with thee, before the world was." Solomon, personifying Wisdom, which is generally understood to be Christ, says, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him.” In these texts is conveyed the idea not only of his pre-existence, but also of his eternal existence. His being by him, as one brought up with him, easily conveys the idea of two, who had always lived together; and upon equal terms. When Christ appeared unto John in Patmos, he styled himself, "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the first and the last." This title was given to God by his prophet; and if it is an evidence of his eternal existence, it affords the same evidence of the eternal existence of the Son Jesus Christ. The prophet, in view of the birth of Christ, makes this address to the place of his nativity. "Thou
Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." This text is clearly applied to Christ. It mentions his coming forth, which would be at his birth. It mentions also his goings forth, which had been of old, from everlasting. This reduplication of time, according to the nature of the Hebrew language, clearly and forcibly conveys the idea of his eternity. Christ is the express image, or character of the divine nature, or substance. His nature is, of course, divine, and his attributes are divine. It is absurd to suppose that the character of divinity should be ascribed to Christ, and he be not divine; or that he should possess some divine attributes, and not others. If he be the character of divine existence, he is of course eternal.
The title Jehovah, is repeatedly given to Christ. This name signifies self-existence. What is self-existent had no cause nor origin of its existence; and of course must always have existed. If the name Jehovah is rightly applied to Christ, it implies his eternal
The sacred scriptures ascribe immutability to Christ. This is a divine attribute. Whatever has been created is subject to change by the same power, which created it. But he, that is not subject to change, exists without a cause, and of course is divine. The apostle Paul to the Hebrews is clear and decisive on this point. "Thou Lord in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." The apostle made this address to Christ; and it as decisively proves his divinity, as the same description proves the divinity of the one
true God, when applied to him by the Psalmist. Paul to the Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." This mode of speaking, expresses duration the present time, and duration to come. As he is the same, in the past, present, and future time, he changeth not.
Christ has been manifested to the world in various To Jacob he appeared in the form of a To Moses he appeared in, or in the likeness of, a burning bush. To the Israelites he appeared in, or in the form of, a pillar of cloud, and a pillar of fire. After his incarnation he appeared in human form, in the form of a servant. Since his resurrection he is united to a spiritual body; and is seated on the right hand of divine Majesty. His appearances were different at different times; and his state of humiliation appeared very different from his state of exaltation. But these appearances made no alteration in his nature. He was no less God in the man Christ Jesus, than he was on the right hand of God the Father. His power was not less when he was in the hands of men, and was condemned, or when his body was under the dominion of death, than it was when he created the world. All the adventitious circumstances, which attended him while he was upon earth, produced no change in his nature or attributes.
The scriptures attribute omnipresence to Christ. The Lord Jesus, when he was upon earth, said, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven." This implies that he was in heaven at the same time he was upon earth. After Christ was received up into heaven, his apostles "went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them." At this time he sat on the right hand of God. But he was present with them, otherwise he could not have wrought with them. "Where two or three are met together in my name, (said Christ) there am I in the midst of them." Jesus said unto his disciples,