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“ their own people,”h and from themselves and the reasonings of the flesh. They must turn away their eyes and their minds from all other persons and things; since in the contemplation of Christ alone, they will find in abundance, whatever is calculated to administer the most ample satisfaction.
II. Acquiescing, therefore, in so kind an invitation, let us now apply ourselves with pleasure to devout meditation on that glory which the Scripture attributes to Christ, when it affirms that he sat DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. All those inducements that can stimulate the students of divine truth to the diligent investigation of any doctrine, concur to attract our attention to this noble theme. As, however, it is a topic singularly sublime and profitable, so it is also attended with considerable difficulty; which has given rise to a variety of controversies amongst Theologians, both ancient and modern. Let us then be careful that we do not wander from the true sense of a very important article. We may attend, in the first place, to the words, and then proceed to a more accurate consideration of the subject.
111. With regard to the expression, it does not seem so necessary to examine what is meant by the right hand, (for that will throw no great light on the question at issue,) as what is denoted by a person's BEING AT THE RIGHT HAND. It must be inquired, besides, whether there be any latent force in the word sitting.
iv. There are some who suppose, that by Christ's sitting at the right hand of God is intended a glory somewhat inferior to the Divine; and the reason they assign for this opinion is, that amongst the ancients,
h Ps. xlv. 10.
the person at the left hand was accounted more honourable than the person at the right. The first writer, so far as I know, that conceived this notion, was Antony of Lebrixa ; who, judging nothing more incongruous, or more indecorous, than that the Son should occupy the first place, which it became him, although equal in nature to the Father, yet as the Son, and as man, to yield to the Father,-began to suspect that the order of sitting amongst the ancients was different from that which is observed in modern times, and imagined that he had proved by several testimonies, collected from old writers, that the place at the left hand was deemed superior in dignity.* Goropius Becanus embraced the same opinion, and defended it by additional proofs.f Baronius, too, supported this new sentiment by new arguments, for the honour of his Roman Pon, tiff, whose legates, it appears, sometimes sat on the left hand in the ancient councils. That this circumstance might prove no disparagement to the Holy See, he contends that, with the Romans, the place on the left, was, in sacred matters, the more honourable, and that on the right the less so. But Lipsius proves incontrovertibly, that the arguments adduced by Becanus are by no means solid, but mere straw and stubble, which cannot stand the ordeal of strict examination.s Compare Turnebus,|| and Casaubon, who keenly satirizes that rage for the paradoxical. Even the evidence of the
. See his Quinquagena, cap. 39. + Hieroglyph. Lib. iii. p. 41. et seq. $ Ad annum ccxiii. sect. 6. and again, ad annum cccxxv. sect. 56.
§ Elect. Lib. ii. cap. 2.
thing itself refutes Baronius. In common with Theodoret, he will have Eustathius of Antioch to have been the Bishop who occupied the first seat on the right hand in the council of Nice, and addressed the Emperor. I shall not now examine the accuracy of this statement. I only observe, that in the Epistle to Zeno the Emperor, respecting the deposition of Peter of Antioch, Felix, the Roman Pontiff, makes mention of Eustathius, as President of the council of Nice. His words are as follows:-“ And of Eustathius the Confessor, and “ President of the three hundred and eighteen holy “ Fathers who met at Nice.”* Now if this be true, most certainly the first seat on the right hand bench, which belonged to the President, could not be considered inferior to any seat on the left.
v. Whatever may have been the practice amongst the Romans, it clearly appears, that amongst the Hebrews, the right hand place was more honourable than the left. Hence the Apostle speaks of “ the right hand “ of the majesty;"; and of the right hand of the throne “ of the majesty."j He whom God loves and honours most, is called “the Man of God's right hand.”k “ A wise “ man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart “ at his left.” The former pursues right-hand; the latter, left hand things. The one meditates and devises in his mind, what is laudable, useful, and excellent; the other, the contrary. Joseph, when presenting his sons to his father Jacob to receive his blessing, placed them according to the order of seniority, so that Manas
• Και Ευσταθία το ομολογητά, και ΠΡΟΕΔΡΟΥ των TIH αγιων Fatifu Nirzice údpor Gistwy. i Heb. i. 3.
i Heb. viii. 1. * Ps. lxxx. 17.
Eccles. x. 2.
seh, the elder, was on Israel's right hand, and Ephraim, the younger, on his left. Job, when complaining of the arrogance of young men towards him, says ;
Upon my right hand rise the youth :'n That is, matters are now come to such a pass, that youths not yet arrived at the years of discretion, are not ashamed wantonly to prefer themselves to me, although an aged and a venerable man.43 In fine, Christ will set the elect on his right hand, as a token of honour and love; and the goats on his left, in testimony of contempt and disgrace, Mat. xxv. 33. But what necessity is there for multiplying examples in so clear a point ?—That the language of the sacred writers, too, referred to the custom of the Hebrews, requires, I think, no laborious proof.
vi. The matter was thus understood by the ancient Christian writers. Basil says, “ The place on the
right hand denotes equal dignity and eminence.” “ If he had intended to intimate,” says Chrysostome,* " that he is inferior, he would not have said on the “ right hand, but on the left." It is observed by Theophylact, that “ he sits, and that on the right “ hand, and on high ; in order to show that he is equal “ in dignity to the Father.” And Maximus of Turint expresses himself in the following words : “ The Fa“ ther offers Christ his Son an exalted place with him“ self on his throne; and, for the purpose of doing him “ honour, he has set him in an everlasting seat at his “ right hand.” Let it then be regarded as certain and
* Ad Hebræos.
# Homil. de S. Pentecos.
r Job xxx. 12. 45 See Note XLIII.
indisputable, that to sit at one's right hand is a mark of dignity and honour.
VII. What then? you will say; because Christ is at the right hand of the Father, is he greater and more honourable than the Father? Socinus, indeed, with Schlichtingius his disciple, speaks to that effect, absurdly affirming, “ that in some degree, and according
to a certain sense, Christ now sits in a more honour“ able place than the Father.” Maldonatus, too, on Psalm cx. seems to adopt the same idea, asserting that this expression signifies, “ that Christ is not merely “ equal, but even greater ; namely, in the administra" tion of the kingdom, although not absolutely.” A more preposterous opinion, however, cannot be formed. " When” the Scripture saith, “all things are put under “ him, it is manifest that he is excepted, who did put " all things under him,” i Cor. xv. 27. And since the Divine majesty and supremacy are absolutely infinite, it is impossible for the mind to suppose, or the imagination to conceive, any thing that is in any respect greater, or more exalted than God. It is highly indecorous also for those, who on other occasions are wholly bent on depreciating Christ and robbing him of his true glory, now to attribute to him a glory in some respect superior to the Divine; which is but a vain glory, and what he never claimed to himself. A writer whom I have just quoted, namely, Maximus of Turin, makes the following excellent remark: “ Some may per“ haps wonder, why Christ is said to be at the right “ hand. There are indeed no degrees of dignity, where “ there is a fulness of divinity. Yet Christ sits at “ the right hand,—not that he may be preferred to “ the Father, but that he may not be considered infee rior."