« PreviousContinue »
NOT TO BE CONFOUNDED.
have cast any reasonable doubt or suspicion over the truth of other parts of the Sacred Volume, (passages for instance in the works of the prophets and in the apostolic epistles) which have a more immediate relation to his divine nature.
While, however, this inspired narrative plainly unfolds and establishes the doctrine, that Jesus was man, it abounds with a variety of evidence, whether more or less direct, that he was also God. These evidences I shall now endeavour to state in the order which I deem to be most clear and natural. 1. Jesus Christ, during his abode on earth, claimed the divine character. II. He displayed divine attributes and powers. III. He received divine homage. IV. His incarnation, life, and death, were accompanied by some other circumstances, which fully harmonize with the doctrine of his deity. V. And lastly, in connection with this period of his history, he is described as God or Jehovah.
1. The doctrine of the actual divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ ought surely to be allowed by all consistent believers in Christianity, if on a careful and impartial examination of the inspired records, they find, that notwithstanding his deep humility, his contempt of the honour of the world, and his acknowledged abhorrence of all impiety, this celestial messenger was accustomed to speak of himself (whether directly, or indirectly) as of one to whom belonged the known character and attributes of the Supreme Being. Now, that Jesus thus asserted his claim to divinity, and asserted it with all the ease and simplicity of long and familiar possession, appears from a variety of examples contained in the four Gospels.
It may, in the first place be observed, that he
HE CLAIMED DIVINITY.
frequently presented himself to his followers as the personal and proper object of religious faith, and of such faith as was to result in their everlasting salvation. "God so loved the world," said he, " that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God:" John iii, 16-18. "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die:" xi, 25, 26; comp. vi, 40. 47. 54. vii, 38. xvii, 20-22. xx, 31, &c.2 In these and similar passages a faith is enjoined, totally different in its nature, from that which can be rightly demanded by any mere servant or messenger of God. It was indeed the duty of those persons to whom the prophets and apostles were sent, to believe the words of the prophets and apostles. But those to whom Jesus Christ was sent, were required, not merely to believe his words, but to fix their faith upon him as upon its legitimate object-to rely upon him as the Son of God, the Redeemer of men, the Resurrection, and the Life-and this on the avowed principle that "there is no salvation in any other"—that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved:" Acts iv, 12. And let it be observed, that while our faith in Jesus Christ must necessarily have respect to his mediatorial offices, yet
2 Vide Schleusner, lex in voc. TIorέuw, No. 3.
OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH.
it is required to be of no secondary or subordinate character. It is unto his name, equally with the name of the Father and that of the Holy Spirit, that the Christian must be baptized: it is by coming to him that we are to find rest unto our souls: and while the Son is described as reconciling us to the Father, the Father is also represented as drawing us to the Son, that from him we may receive peace in this world, and eternal happiness in the world to come. When the Jews inquired of Jesus, "what shall we do that we might work the works of God?" he answered, and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe in him, whom he hath sent:" John vi, 28, 29. Again,
no man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me:.....Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on ME hath everlasting life:" ver.
Now, in thus declaring himself to be a personal and final object of saving faith, Jesus Christ appears, indirectly indeed, yet clearly, to have assumed the divine character. For, although the mere servants and ministers of God may justly claim at our hands both a ready credence, and a respectful deference, it is utterly inconsistent with the scope and tenor of scriptural truth, that men should be required to place their reliance for salvation, on any creature, however gifted or exalted-on any being but Him, who is alone from everlasting, almighty and supreme : Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:" Isa. xxvi, 4. "Cursed is the man that
THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord........ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is" Jer. xvii, 5. 7. KISS THE SON," cried
"lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust IN HIM:” Ps. ii, 12.
While our Lord presented himself to the disciples as the proper object of their faith, he also declared in plain terms, that he was himself the Saviour of the world. "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world:" John xii, 47; comp. Luke xix, 10. And that he is a Saviour in the highest and most comprehensive sense of the expressions, appears from his promise that he would "give" unto his followers. "eternal life:" John x, 27, 28. Now, although our fellow-creatures may sometimes be the instruments of our spiritual deliverance, the Scriptures declare that it is God, and God alone, who actually saves us. “I, even I, am Jehovah," says the Almighty by his prophet," and besides me there is NO SAVIOUR" Is. xliii, 11. "There is no God else beside me: a just God and a SAVIOUR: there is none else beside me. Look unto ME, and be ye SAVED, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else:" xlv, 21, 22; comp. Tit. i, 3, 4.
2. When John the Baptist preached repentance unto the people, he proclaimed the near approach of the kingdom, or reign of heaven, and the king who was to exercise the celestial dominion thus alluded to, was no other (as appears by the united testimony of prophets and apostles, see Isa. ix, 6, 7; Jer. xxiii, 5, 6; Eph. i, 21, &c. &c.) than the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now it is generally allowed
HE TO WHOM WE ARE RESPONSIBLE.
268 by Christians, and is abundantly evident from the whole tenor of the New Testament, that this reign of the Messiah was to consist, not in any thing temporal or worldly, but in a moral and spiritual government over the souls of men, for Jesus Christ is "the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls:" I Pet. ii, 25. He is exalted to be a Prince, and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins:" Acts v, 31. Since, therefore, according to the dictates of sound reason as well as of Scripture, this highest species of dominion-a dominion over the spiritual part of man-can be truly exercised only by one who partakes in the attributes of the Deity, we cannot be surprised, that an absolutely divine authority appears to have been often asserted by Jesus, when his own kingdom-his moral and spiritual lordship over men -was the subject of his conversation. There are two of his parables which are, in this point of view, very instructive and explicit. In the parable of the talents, the person who under the figure of "the man travelling into a far country," is represented as the sole author of our various endowments, and as the Being to whom, in a day of awful retribution, we shall be called upon to render an account of our use, disuse, or abuse, of these his own gifts, can be no other than Jesus Christ; for it is evidently the same person, who immediately before, is described as the bridegroom, (comp. John iii, 29; Eph. v, 28, 29; Rev. xix, 7) and immediately after, as the Son of Man, coming in his glory, as the judge of all flesh. And yet who is He, from whom we receive all our talents, and to whom we are morally responsible for a profitable use of them, but God only? Again in the parable of the wheat and tares, it is the Son of man (i. e.