« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.'
Hence you see, that incommunicable worship, that glory which God will not give to another, is prescribed and given to Christ: and that it is the same, in kind and degree, with that which is paid to the Father, is evident; because Christ says, “The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;' John v. 22, 23. and because, as you may perceive by the passage just cited from the Revelation, the worship paid unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb,' is one individual act of worship offered at the same instant and expressed in the same terms. The united practice of every creature, not only on earth, and under the earth, but even in heaven itself, round the throne, and before the face of God, is surely a sufficient comment, if they needed it, on all the assertions of our Saviour's divinity, hitherto quoted from holy Scripture. Here is practice, to put speculation out of question. Practice generally follows faith ; but here it follows the beatific vision in heaven, and leads the way to our faith on earth, that there may be no possibility of mistaking. You see there can be no Arians, no Socinians, no subordinate worshippers, in heaven. There the angels, the archangels, the principalities, the powers, the dominions, the thrones, are all orthodox Christians; all “honour the Son as they honour the Father,' in one united hymn, paid, without distinction, without subordination, equally to both. There they do not worship the Son only as the representative of the Father. The Father himself is visibly present, as well as the Son, and both on one throne receive the adoration of the whole universe.
I have now gone through with such proofs of our Saviour's divinity as the time would permit. And here let me ask you, what arguments on the other side are sufficient to make us doubt or deny this article of faith? If the Holy Ghost had said but once, 'Christ is God,' surely nothing but an equal authority, saying the contrary, should in reason, be allowed to shake our faith in his divinity. But where in the holy Scriptures is this flat contradicting proposition, •Christ is not God,' to be found? Or in what other Bible are
we to look for it? Are our own reasonings, so apt on all occasions to deceive us, to serve instead of it? or are we to trust to consequences drawn, by our own fallible understandings, from passages that say no such thing in terms, but seem, by a long chain of subtle inferences, to point to it, against the positive testimony of one such plain affirmative, that needs no comment ? Surely one proof of this nature ought to outweigh ten thousand deductions. But, if one ought not, will not so many repeated passages, all concurring to affirm the same thing, preponderate? Or, if even this will not do, you ought at least to be convinced by those places that prove the point by negatives; such as where Christ himself says, “There is no God besides me;' Thou
shalt have none other gods before me.' He who says Christ is · the Word, and the Word is God,' says enough. But Christ says a great deal more, when he says these words : ‘I am the First and the Last, and besides me there is no God.' What argument, that requires to be helped out by our own reasonings, can be set over against this in the balance of a sound judgment, already convinced that Christ is truth itself ?
You may observe I have chosen to multiply plain proofs for our Saviour's divinity from Scripture, rather than to spend the time in accommodating to my purpose such as were less plain, by a precarious comment of my own; as also, that I have endeavoured to clear the point chiefly by quoting passages from the New Testament, repeating, or referring to, others in the Old, whereby every such proof acquires the force of two; and, besides, hath the immense advantage of an application and comment made by an interpreter who could not err.
While I was doing this, I observed, what never occurred to me before, that the strongest proofs, and those in the greatest number, nay, those in which Christ's dignity is carried highest, are conveyed in this way. And the reason why the apostles took that method, seems to be this : The unconverted Jews could not easily digest, either from their Master or them, the plain assertions of his divinity in terms of their own. To avoid this obstruction, the apostles chose to assert it in the words of the prophets, whom their readers implicitly believed, and highly reverenced; by this means delicately grafting this doctrine, otherwise so startling, on the faith they had already received, and thereby at the same time strongly and clearly exhibiting the close connexion between the two dispensations. They shewed, by the miracles they wrought, that they were inspired ; and consequently, had a right to be heard when they delivered themselves in words unheard before; and therefore they do frequently assert their Master's divinity in expressions not found among the prophets. But, if their miraculous powers ought to have given them credit on such occasions, they ought, for the same reason, to give weight to their comments, and applications of the prophets, inasmuch as it was evidently the same Spirit that both dictated and applied the prophecy: When, therefore, the apostles brought the authority of the prophets in aid of their own, they seemed to reason with a double force. Hence, perhaps, may be best explained what St. Peter says in the Second Epistle, after pleading a miracle ; 'We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well that you take heed.' Not that prophecy is a surer test of truth than a miracle, for it is but a miracle ; but that the concurrence of both a prophecy and a miracle give stronger testimony than a miracle alone, because it carries with it the efficacy of two miracles; and, if there was a preconception in favour of the prophecy, this too must have its effect.
It cannot be denied, but that the writers of the Old Testament, being obliged perpetually to inculcate the worship of one only God on the minds of the Israelites, and to deter them from that of all false gods, are every where full, strong, and precise, on this subject, expressing the majesty of the one true God in great and glorious terms, and vilifying the false and pretended gods in such words and phrases as carry with them the utmost contempt. Here every thing appears in favour of the unity. Now, when the same Spirit that inspired the Old Testament, makes use, in dictating the New, of such passages therein, as set forth, with the utmost elevation of expression, the majesty of the one God, and applies them to Jesus Christ as that one God, surely a Christian can have no doubt of his divinity; for, certainly, whatever a pretended Christian may imagine he hath found out in the New Testament, there is but one God only proposed to our faith in the Old. But the writers of the New not quoting often, very seldom indeed, by name, the reader, little versed in the Scriptures, for the greater part does not observe there is a quotation, when there really is; and, consequently, neither observes the full force of the proof, nor, I might add, does he see the strong and peremptory expressions, wherein the fulness of the Godhead is ascribed to his Saviour, for want of having recourse to the passage at large, from whence the citation is taken ; but often so taken, as to leave the stronger expressions behind for a farther search, on having received some impressions of the truth.
I thought fit so far to do justice to this part of the apostolic wisdom, that they who hear me may not too suddenly take up opinions prejudicial to the doctrine I have been labouring to establish, till they have paid a proper deference to that precept of Christ : “Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me.'
And now, blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY GHOST PROVED.
St. John XVI. 13.
--When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth ; for
he shall not speak of himself ; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HAVING, in a former Discourse, proved, that there is but one God, and in another, that Christ is God, I come now to prove, that the Holy Ghost also is God.
The words of my text represent him to us as God; for
how otherwise can he guide us into all truth,' nay, be the very "Spirit of truth,' or truth itself? 1 John v. 6. How otherwise can he shew us things to come ?' These surely are not the attributes or powers of a creature. This the opposers of his divinity will grant; but they will insist, at the same time, that these attributes and powers are not his own, but borrowed from the Father and the Son, and exercised by commission from both, inasmuch as Christ saith, “He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he heareth, that shall he speak; he shall receive of mine; all things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you;' ver. 14, 15.
If the Spirit of God hath nothing of his own, why is he set forth, 1 Cor. xii. 11,' as dividing his gifts to every one severally as he will?' If he knows nothing, but what he hears, or is told, why is he said, 2 Cor. ii. 10,- to search all things, yea, the deep things of God?' Or why is it asked, Isa. xl. 13, 'Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him ?'
There is only one way to reconcile these seeming opposites, which other parts of Scripture, brought on both sides, appear to set yet wider; but it is an easy, and the true one. As Christ, though God, acts as a Son, and a man, in subor. dination to his father, without derogating from the coequal dignity of his nature; so the Holy Ghost, though God, pursuant to the divine economy of offices, distributes those gifts of knowledge, truth, sanctity, &c. which proceed, as, he doth himself, originally from the Father and Son, and which therefore the Son calls his own; not because they do not as much belong to the Father and the Holy Ghost as to him, but because the Son hath purchased the use of them for the church by his blood. Now, this method, whereby Christ hath acquired the sole right of propriety in the church, and the use of such powers as are peculiar to the Holy Spirit, neither derogates from that copartnership of right which he and the Holy Spirit had before, nor from the divinity of their nature, wherewith it hath nothing to do. The church belongs to Christ, as its proprietor and governor; which gives him a right to the assistance of both the other persons, in their respective offices. Accordingly, the Father pardons and adopts all those whom Christ inter