Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 passages, 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, -6.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 al ways 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.”

The following remarkable sentence is from Rabbi Judah Hakkadosh, or Judah the Holy, who lived in the second century :-“ God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, they are all one, and cannot be separated.”

These testimonies to the preexistence and divinity of Christ, are complete and irresistible, and in a serious mind it cannot, I think, fail to produce not only conviction, but astonishment and delight, to see the wonderful manner in which the Almighty hath diffused and propagated the evidence of this doctrine, from the earliest period, to the present time.

[graphic]

CHAPTER III.

INCARNATION OF CHRIST.

“ God was manifest in the Flesh."

] Tim. iii. 16.

It is revealed in the holy scriptures, that the Mediator between God and man must partake of human nature, not the nature of a particular nation, tribe, family, or individual, but the nature of the whole human race. This was typified in the Mosaic law, which required that the redeemer of a forfeited inheritance, or of a slave who had sold his birthright and civil liberty, should be near of kin to those who were to be redeemed. Therefore, to recover the gift of immortality, which man had lost by his original apostacy, or sold for the pleasures and glory of the world, it behoved Christ by a preternatural conception, to be born of a woman, and to be made like tinto his brethren, “ Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same,” that all might

« PreviousContinue »