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Christ be essential to faith, the doctrine of his Deity must be essential also; for no man can reasonably rely on a mere creature to forgive his sins, to sanctify his soul, to raise his body from the grave, and to give him eternal life. To form such expectations from him, we must believe that he is “ God over all, blessed for evermore;" “ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever" (Heb. xiii, 8; Rev. i, 4; xi, 17). In like manner, the love, which Christ demands of us, cannot belong to any mere creature; we are required to love him more than our nearest relatives, or even than our own lives; nay, to hate all these, when they come in competition with our love to him, otherwise we are not worthy of him, and cannot be his disciples (Matt. x, 37; Luke xiv, 26). Now, what is this but to love him supremely, and as we should love the Father? Nor are we once cautioned not to let our love of Christ interfere with “ that love of God with all our hearts" which the law requires: it is not intimated, that there is any incongruity, disparity, or even distinction, between our love of the Father, and of the Son: nay, the more we love Christ, the greater our love of the Father is supposed to be, and the more shall we be loved of him (John viii. 42 ; xiv. 21–24 ; xv. 23.) The decisions of the great day of account are represented as to be awarded by this rule ; they, who have loved Christ, and shown their love to him by kindness to his disciples for his sake, will be considered as true believers and righteous persons: they, who shall be proved not to have loved him, by their neglect of his poor disciples, will be considered as unbelievers, and impenitent sinners, and condemned to have their portion with the wicked (Matt. xxv. 31–46.) But can we suppose, that no mention would on this occasion be made of the love of Gud, if the love of Christ had been entirely distinct from it, or if it were not certain, that the more we love the Son, the more we love the Father that sent him? Thus the apostle's benediction includes all “ that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;" he denounces an awful curse on every man who does not love him (Eph. vi. 24; 1 Cor. xvi. 22:) and he represents the love of Christ as the constraining principle of all his own devoted labours and services (2 Cor. v. 14, 15.). Another apostle speaks of the love of an unseen Saviour, as the universal experience of all Christians (1 Pet i. 8 :) and when that apostle denied his Lord, he was thrice interrogated, whether he loved him, before he was re-instated in his pastoral office (John xxi. 15–17.) But no such special and pre-eminent love towards any one of the mere servants of God is required of us; nay, the apostle was afraid lest he or his brethren should be put in Christ's place, when he inquired," was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul ?" (1 Cor. i. 13.) Yet our Lord never intimated that there was any danger, lest his disciples should love him, in a degree, that would be derogatory to the rights of God the Father, who is a jealous God, and cannot endure a rival in our affections, but demands our whole heart. How then can Christ dwell in our hearts, as Lord of our affections, if he and the Father be not One? As therefore we ought to love Christ, even as we love the Father; it must be necessary that we believe him to be the adequate object of that love ; both for what he is in himself, and what he hath done for us; and thus the doctrine of his Deity, if true, must be essential; and unless we believe it, how can we keep clear of the apostle's anathema?
Moreover, we are constantly reminded, that we are not our own but the Lord's; we are his property, because he made us : and, when by sin we had alienated ourselves, we became his again, “ bought with a price, to glorify him, in body and spirit, which are his” (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20; x. 31.) Yet the apostles always speak of believers as belonging to Christ; they are his servants, his purchased flock, his espoused bride (though the Lord of Hosts is called the husband of the church, Isa. liv. 5,) the members of his body, &c. St. Paul says, in one place, that “he was dead to the law, that he might live unto God ; in another, “ that he lived no longer to himself, but to him who died for him and rose again;" and that “ Christ died and rose again, that he might be the Lord, both of the living and of the dead” (Rom. xiv. 8, 9; 2 Cor. v. 14; Gal. ii. 19). And he observes, that the Lord Jesus “ redeemed us from all iniquity, and purifies us unto himself, to be a peculiar people," &c. (Tit. ii. 14). Could such language as this be properly used concerning services to be rendered to a mere man? Surely this would be an idolatrous alienation of ourselves from the service of our Maker to devote ourselves to that of a fellow-creature. But if Christ be truly God, one with the Father, then our dedication of ourselves to his service is the same as our devoted obedience to the Father that sent him; and is no other than the prescribed manner in which, as redeemed sinners, we are required to render it. In short, it must be evident to all who reverence the language of Scripture, that we honour, obey, and worship the Father, when we honour, obey, and worship the Son; and that all the glory rendered to the Son redounds to the glory of the Father, “ who is glorified in the Son,” (John xiii. 31, 32; xvii. 1-10; Phil. i. 20; ii. 11). Who can believe that it should be the ofa . fice of the Holy Spirit to “ glorify Christ,” if it be of little or no consequence what men think of his person, or if proper views of it are not essential to Christianity? or that the apostle, in this case, would have spoken of his “ name being glorified” in and by his saints, both now and at the day of judgment ? (2 Thess. i. 10–12). If Jesus were only a mere creature, Jehovah would give his glory to another, if he inspired his servants to use such language: so that the
confidence, love, gratitude, devotedness of heart, and the honour which the Scriptures require us to render to Christ, must be impracticable, unless we have a proper judgment of his dignity and excellency; and we must either rob him of the glory due to his name, or give Jehovah's glory to another, if we mistake in this fundamental matter.
IV. The nature of heavenly felicity evinces this. The language of the apostle is emphatical, “To depart hence, and to be with Christ, which is far better;" for this implies, that the presence of Christ, the discoveries of his glory, and the enjoyment of his love, constitute the happiness for which he longed, (Phil. i. 23 ; John xvii. 24); and wherein does this differ from the beatific vision ? But in the last chapters of Revelation, which describe the heavenly state, this is still more plainly declared. He whose name is “ Alpha and Omega,” says, “I will give him that is athirst of the water of life freely: he that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son," (xxi. 6, 7). If any person should explain this passage of the Father, it would only prove, that "the Father and the Son are one;" for the Son is doubtless called Alpha and Omega, &c. Again, the apostle “ saw no temple” in the New Jerusalem, “ for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it: and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb was the light thereof,” (xxi. 22, 23). He next saw a pure river of water of life proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,”—“neither was there any more curse, but the throne of God, and of the Lamb, shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads," (xxii. 1–5). Can any thing be plainer, than that the writer of this book believed the Son was one with, and equal to the Father: the fountain of light, life, purity, and felicity; in whose presence is fulness of joy, and pleasures at his right hand for evermore? (vii. 16, 17). It is also manifest, that the worship of heaven is represented as a constant ascription of praise and honour to Christ together with the Father : yet we cannot sing on earth the very words of the heavenly choir, with apparent fervour, and unreserved approbation, without danger of being deemed enthu'siasts ; as is manifest from the care taken by many persons to expunge every expression of this kind from their books of psalms and hymns for public worship, as well as from their other services. Will there then be discordant companies of worshippers in heaven? Or, if all must be harmonious, are we never to learn the song of the redeemed till we come to heaven? Or how can we learn this song, if we never come to a settled determination in our minds, whether the Lamb that was slain be worthy of all worship and ho.
nour, or not? or if it be indifferent whether we adore and expect felicity from him as God, or only respect his memory as a good man?
V. Lastly, the language of authority, which we are certified that our future Judge will use at the last day, should not pass unnoticed in this argument.. As the happiness of heaven is represented under the idea of entering into his joy, and beholding his glory, &c. (Luke xii. 37 ; Matt. xxv. 21): so the misery of the wicked is spoken of, as a banishment from his presence, and the endurance of his wrath. He will not say, " Depart from God,” hut “ Depart from me,” (Matt. xxv. 41; 2 Thess. i. 9, 10). And in a figurative description of the great consternation of his enemies, in which is an evident reference to the day of judgment, they are introduced as calling on the rocks and mountains “to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb; for the day of his great wrath is come, and who is able to abide it?” (Rev. vi. 16, 17). If then we believe that “ he shall come to be our Judge,” it must be of the greatest importance that we know who he is, by whom our eternal state is to be decided. For surely it will be very dreadful for those to meet him arrayed in glorious majesty, who, during their whole lives, refused him the honour he demanded, treated his declarations of his personal dignity as false or unmeaning, and continually uttered hard speeches against him! (Jude 14, 15; Rev. i. 7). If then the season of his coming be “ the day of God,” (2 Pet. iii. 12), it behoves every one of us to “prepare to meet our God,” that we
may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.".
But to all these scriptural demonstrations of the truth and importance of this essential doctrine, some objections are opposed, which are considered as insurmountable—a few of them shall here be very briefly noticed. It is objected, that the Deity of Christ is inconsistent with the unity of God; or else, that it is irrational, unintelligible, and contradictory. But doubtless something more than confident assertion is requisite to prove the doctrine of the Trinity to be inconsistent with the Divine Unity. The apostle speaks of the body, soul, and spirit, as constituting the same individual man (though some perhaps may object to his language ;) but if a man may be three in one respect, and one in another; do we know so much of God, as to assert it is impossible that somewhat similar, but far superior, and more entire, both in the distinction, and in the unity, should take place in his incomprehensible nature ? And ought not men to speak more reverently and cautiously on a subject, about which we know nothing more, than what God himself hath taught us ? Especially as so much is spoken in scripture, which appears to have this meaning, that the most of Christians in every age have thus understood it. We do not say, that the Deity is Three and one in the same sense ; nor do we pretend to explain or comprehend how God subsists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; but we would humbly believe his testimony concerning himself, and adore his incomprehensible majesty.
One would scarce have expected that the doctrine should have been objected to, because it is so mysterious; when the apostle expressly calls it the great mystery of godliness. But indeed till we can comprehend ourselves, it is absurd to object to mysteries in those things which relate to the infinite God! The power of mind over matter is mysterious in the highest degree; yet our will moves our tongues and limbs continually; and we know not how: so that our own existence, as well as that of God, must be denied, if we admit it not. Mysteries are found in the production of every plant and animal, yea, in the growth of every blade of grass, which philosophy can never explain. The style of God, in all his works, is mystery; and shall we suppose that his own nature is not, above all, mysterious? Experiment is allowed to be the proper standard of our discoveries of the powers of nature : should not, then, the testimony of God concerning himself, terminate our inquiries conce
cerning his incomprehensible Essence? For can we “ by searching find out God? Can we find out the Almighty to perfection?" If men object Christ's inferiority as Man and Mediator to the Father; or his growth in wisdom and stature, &c. ; we answer, that such testimonies, when compared with those which ascribe omniscience, &c., to him, demonstrate that he had another nature, in union with his humanity, of which such things are -spoken. And “his delivering up of the kingdom of God, even the Father" (1 Cor. xv. 24–28,) only establishes the distinction between the absolute and everlasting kingdom of God, as Creator ; and the mediatorial kingdom of Christ, as the Divine Saviour of sinners. As the absolute kingdom existed before sin entered; so will it exist for ever, after the mediatorial kingdom hath answered its grand design, and is come to an end : but the Son will be One with the Father to eternity, as he was in the beginning, before time was, or creation had taken place.
If any person should be convinced, by these plain arguments, of the truth and importance of this doctrine, I would conclude with warning him not to rest in the notion of it; but to apply it practically, by relying on Emmanuel for all things belonging to salvation, and by rendering him that love and honour which are due to his Name. The truth held in unrighteousness can only increase a man's condemnation : but they, who deem it the life of their souls, should endeavour to adorn and promote the knowledge of it, by all suitable means: remembering, that “the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (1 Tim. ii. 24-26.)
On the Nature and Design of the Mediatorial Office, sustained by the
Lord Jesus Christ.
The Mediation of Christ between a holy God and sinful men has an immediate connection with every part of that religion which bears his name: and all, who call themselves Christians, should use great diligence in seeking an accurate and adequate knowledge of this interesting subject, as far as they can deduce it from the sacred scriptures. It is, therefore, intended in this essay, to make some observations on Mediation in general ;-to explain the nature and ends of our Lord's Mediation in particular ;-to show in what respects he, and none else, was qualified to sustain such an office;-. and to prove from Scripture, that he is a Mediator, in the sense that will be explained.
The interposition of a Mediator in the affairs of men implies, that some difference or ground of difference subsists between the two parties; it supposes that, at least, one of them has cause of complaint or resentment against the other; and that consequences injurious to one, or both of them, or to those connected with them, may be apprehended if the controversy be not amicably terminated. To prevent these effects, some person, either of his own accord, or at the request and by the appointment of one or both the contending parties, interposes: and endeavours by his authority, influence, or good offices, to effect a pacification on such terms as are supposed to be equitable, or at least not materially injurious to either party: for if a Mediator should take great care of the rights and interests of one party, and evidently neglect those of the other, he would be justly condemned for acting contrary to the design and nature of his office. He should therefore act as the friend of both ; accommodating their differences according to the justice of their claims, and in a manner as satisfactory to each of them, as can consist with equity and impartiality.
In some cases a superior in station or power may assume the office of Mediator, and by authority induce the contending parties to accept of the terms proposed to each of them. In others, the end may be accomplished by argument, remonstrance, or persuasion : and this is nothing more than convincing both parties, that they ought to make, or accept of, such concessions for the sake of peace and their mutual good, as are equitable and reasonable ; and then inducing them to act according to the dictates of their understanding and conscience. But sometimes (especially when one party is much inferior to the other, and hath been highly criminal or injurious), the office of a Mediator will chiefly consist, in prevailing with the offended superior to accept of such concessions and satisfaction as the other can make, and not to proceed against him with rigour, though he deserve it: and if this can be effected, it only remains for him to prevail with the inferior, or criminal party, to make the required concessions, &c. It may, however, so happen, on some occasions, that the Mediator, out of great love and pity to the offender, may offer to make compensation at his own expense, for the injuries he hath done; in order that the other party may without loss or dishonour lay aside his purposes of inflicting deserved punishment upon him. Various qualifieations would be requisite for persons who should sustain the office of a Mediator between two parties at variance, in any of the cases which have been stated : but our attention should principally be fixed upon the last, as it doubtless most accords to the interesting subject which it is intended to illustrate. Should any one interpose between a sovereign prince and his rebellious subjects, in order to prevail with him to show them mercy, it is obvious that he should himself be free from all suspicion of the least favouring their rebellion ; otherwise his interposition would render him the more suspected. He ought, moreover, to be a person of that rank and character, or to have done those important services, which entitle him to the confidence of his sovereign, and tend to render it honourable for him, at his instance, to pardon those that deserve punishment. Every one must perceive the absurdity of a criminal undertaking to mediate in behalf of his associates in guilt; nor could an obscure person, of indifferent character, and in no respect entitled to, or possessed of, the affection or confidence of the prince, attempt such an interposition, without manifest impropriety. If a company of men, in any such circumstances, were desirous of thus conciliating the favour of their offended lord, they would naturally turn their thoughts to one of his chief nobles, to some person that had performed signal services with great renown; or to his principal favourite, (Acts xii. 20); or even to his beloved Son, if they had any prospect or hope of obtaining his good offices. And if such a Mediator could be engaged in their behalf, with so firm and cordial an attachment to their cause as to say with Paul, when he mediated with Philemon for Onesimus, “ if they have wronged thee, or owe thee aught, put that on mine account ;-I will repay it,” (Phil. 19, 20); and if he really were competent to make good such an engagement; then his interposition would have its utmost advantage for success.
But no Mediator can be fully authorized for his office, unless, by one means or other, both parties allow of his interference ; at least his mediation cannot have its due effect, till they both accede to his terms or plan of accommodating their differences. For if one party authorize him to propose certain terms to the other, as the utmost that he will yield; the whole must yet be frustrated, and the dissension perpetuated, if these terms be pertinaciously rejected; except when the Mediator acts also as an umpire, and compels the parties to accept of his prescribed conditions. There is also an evident propriety in a Mediator's standing in such a relation to each of the parties, as to lay a foundation for his being considered as an equal friend to both of them, in all respects in which their rank or the justice of the cause will admit oí it; so that there can be no reason to suspect, that a person, thus situatel, will sacrifice the interests or rights of one party, from a partial regard to the other.