« PreviousContinue »
ted that they understood him rightly. Does this offend you ? what ! and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before.” Sermons Page 132.
Our blessed Lord told the unbelieving Jews, that he came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him. No persons are said to descend from heaven, but such as were really there, before they appeared upon earth. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb, yet he distinguishes himself from Christ in this --" he that cometh from above is above all- he that is of the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth.” Adam was created immediately by God, without the intervention of man or woman, yet he was so far from being from heaven, that even in this respect, he is distinguished from the second Adam. “ The first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven,” wherefore the descent of Christ from heaven, clearly presupposes his being there, and that antecedently, to any ascent thither, “ for that he ascended what is but thoi he also first descended.” Eph. iv. 9.
To plain, honest men, who believe the testimony of Him, who cannot lie, the following text, on this head, will be conclusive. “ And now 0 Father glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John xvii. 5. Here our Saviour himself, in a solemn act of devotion, declares to the Almighty, that he had glory with him, before the world was, and he fervently prays, that his Father would be graciously pleased to re-instate him in his former felicity. The language is serious and very striking ; every word is emphatic : “ glorify thou me with that glory which I enjoyed in thy presence, and near thy person before the world was.” Upon this single passage the christian may with safety rest his faith.
When any doctrine, of a mysterious and important nature, is presented to the mind, we generally feel a strong curiosity to know the manner, in which the same doctrine has been regarded by others, particularly by such as have lived before us, and peculiarly, by the ancient members of the christian churches; nor is this a matter of small moment, for if the doctrine of the divinity of Christ were now first discovered by mankind to be contained in the scriptures, (the words of holy writ being supposed to have remained always the same), we should undoubtedly be surprised to find that those
which in our view, clearly contain this doctrine, had never been understood by others, in the same light as by ourselves ; particularly we should be inclined to doubt the soundness of our interpretation, if the early christians explained such passages in a way totally different from our own mode of construction. It will also be easily seen, that the time in which those lived, to whom an appeal of this nature is made, must be of some consequence, as well as the character of the witnesses. The more ancient the witnesses are, other things being equal, the more valuable must be their testimony: and such testimony when really anoient, and at the same time explicit, and decisive, cannot fail of yielding great satisfaction to every rational inquirer.
To shew that the view which I have taken of the preexistence of Christ, as derived from the holy scriptures, is correct, I will
therefore add the sentiments of some eminent writers of the christian church, who lived in its first and purest ages :-Justin Martyr, who lived in the year 140, and was born about the close of the first century, says, “ The Son proceedeth from the Father, as the light of the sun in the firmament from its own body, without any division or separation from it.” Dial. with Trypho, p. 358. In another place he declares —“ More than one Divine Person are denoted by the phrase, • the man is become as one of us,' and that one of these was Christ.” Tertullian affirms, “ It was the Son, who judged men from the beginning, destroyed that lofty tower, and confounded their languages, punishing the world with a flood of water, and raining fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah, for he always descended to hold converse with men, from Adam even to the patriarchs and prophets, in visions and dreams; neither was it possible, that the God who conversed with men upon earth, could be any other than that Word, which was to be made flesh.” Adv. Prux. Cap. 16. Anthenagorus who flourished in the year 178, says, “ By Christ all things were created, since the Father and the Son are one." Irenæus states, that “ John preaching the one Almighty God, and the only begotten Son Jesus Christ, by whom all things were made, saith that this person is the true light who lighteth every man, that this Person is the maker of the world, that this Person was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Lib. I. Cap. 1. Thus does this learned and pious martyr, who was the disciple of Polycarp, the scholar of St. John, apply all the leading points of doctrine contained in the introductory verses in the gospel of St. John to our blessed Saviour, in the fullest and most satisfactory manner.
To the testimony of the Christian church, I add that of the Jewish church.
Philo, the celebrated Jew of Alexandria, who lived before the birth of our Saviour, calls the logos (the Word that was made flesh) the eternal logos, and says that he is the image of the invisible God.”
Jonathan says “God will atone by his Word, for his land, and for his people, even a people saved by the Word of the Lord.”