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this part of the evangelical history, the rising of the star was understood to be a portent that the Deity bąd descended. On the whole, then, we are in possession of no inconsiderable reasons for concluding, that the worship offered by the Magi to the child Jesus was a spiritual adoration*
In the instances of worship addressed to our Lord during the course of his ministry, there is to be observed an almost uniform feature, viz: that the act of homage is described as a sign of religious faith, directed to Christ as its object. This faith had, in some instances, an obvious respect to his omnipotence. The leper, when worshipping Jesus, cried out, “ If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean :" Matt. viii, 2. “My daughter is even now dead,” exclaimed the ruler, when prostrate before his Lord," but come, and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live :" ix, 18; comp. xv, 25. Now, that faith in the divine power of Jesus, which such addresses to him plainly indicated, was probably connected with the doctrine of which so many traces are to be found in the writings of the early Jews, that God is manifested to mankind by his Word or Son; and arose out of the conviction that Jesus was himself this Son of God. Accordingly, we find that the followers of Jesus, on other occasions, after witnessing the miraculous exertions of his divine power, not only worshipped him, but accompanied the act of worship with the confession of their belief in him, as the Son of God. When Jesus had interrupted for a time one of the laws of nature, by walking on the surface of the sea, and when
* On the highly probable supposition, that the gifts of the wise men were all symbolical, we may, perhaps, accede to the opinion of certain early fathers, that the gold represented the regality of Christ, the myrrh his death and burial, and the frankincense his divinity-points in the circumstances and character of the Messiah, which had severally been made the subject of prophecy. Speaking of the Magi, Origen says, φέροντες μέν δώρα και (ν' ούτως ονομάσω) συνθέτω τίνι εκ Θεού και ανθρώπου θνητου προσήνεγκαν σύμβολα μεν, ως βασιλεί τον χρυσόν, ως δε τεθνηξoμένω την σμύρναν, ώς δε Θεό τον λιβα· ωτόν. «They offered their gifts as symbols, to one who was (if I may so express myself) jointly both God and man. The gold they offered to him as to a king -the myrrh as to a man who was soon to die-the frankincense as to God:” Contra Cel. lib. i, sect. 60, Ed. Ben. , p. 375. Irenæus has given a precisely similar explanation of the gifts of the Magi: “Matthæus autem,” says he, “ Magos ab oriente venientes ait dixisse, Vidi. mus stellam ejus in Oriente et venimus adorare eum, deductosque a stella in domum Jacob ad Emmanuel, per ea quæ obtulerunt munera ostendisse, quis erat qui adorabatur; myrrham quidem, quod ipse erat qui pro mortali humano genere moreretur et sepeliretur: aurum vero quoniam Rex, cujus regni finis non est ; thus vero quoniam Deus qui et notus in Judæa factus est, et manifestus eis qui non quærebant eum. Contra Hæres. : lib. III, cap. ix, Ed. Ben. p. 184.
he had hushed the winds and waves into a calm, they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, “saying, of a truth thou art the Son of God:” Matt. xiv, 33. Again, we read, that after he had bestowed sight on the man who was born blind, he found him, and said unto him, “ Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him ? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe ; and he worshipped him :" John ix, 35 -38.
Even the devils worshipped Jesus, because he was the Son of God; for it is to them that the act must be attributed, when it was performed by the man who was possessed with them, and when they cried out in the agony of their fear, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God ?
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Matt. viii, 29 : comp. Mark v, 7. Lastly, it could surely be no civil homage-it could be nothing short of spiritual adoration-which the whole company of the apostles addressed to their divine Master, after they had witnessed his glorious ascension. 66 And it came to pass,” says the evangelist, “ while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven: and they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Luke xxiv, 51–53.
Now, that the very writers who have recorded the reprobation of the reverential act, when addressed to Peter and the angel, although, in both cases, it was probably a token of mere submnission, should have described the worship so often offered to Jesus Christ, under circumstances plainly indicative of a spiritual homage, and should never have hinted that it was in any degree objectionable--that Peter, also, should freely and frequently have addressed to Jesus that very act which, when it was offered to himself, he so strenuously resisted, because he was a man—appears to be utterly unaccountable, unless we allow that the evangelists and apostles were themselves persuaded of our Lord's divinity, and of his therefore being, with the Father, a legitimate object of religious adoration.
But, it is still more remarkable, still more conclusively to the point, that the holy Jesus himself, the perfection of whose humility no Christian dares to dispute, should not only have tolerated the divine homage thus offered to him, but should have graciously accepted and richly rewarded it, as an evidence of faith, piety, and obedience. “ I will,” replied he to the believing and worshipping leper, “be thou clean;" and to the
Canaanitish woman, who lay prostrate before him, he said, “O woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou wilt." If we admit that all the words and actions of Jesus were lawful and right, I think we must also admit that, in thus receiving and blessing the adoration of which he was himself the object, and which was addressed to him as a sign of religious faith, the lowly Saviour of men has afforded us an indirect, yet irresistible, evidence, that he truly participates in the nature and dignity of that Almighty Being, to whom alone he has declared all worship to be due : Matt. iv, 10 : comp. John v, 23.
In conclusion, and in confirmation of the whole argument, it only remains to be observed, that the incarnate Son of God is declared to be the object of worship, of spiritual surely and divine worship-not only to men, but to angels. “When he bringeth the first-begotten into the world, (says the apostle to the Hebrews) he saith, AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM :" Heb. i, 6: comp. Sept. Ps. xcvii, 7. *
IV. Independently of the three leading and general facts to which we have now adverted (namely, that Jesus Christ, during his abode on earth, claimed the divine character, exercised the divine attributes, and received divine honors) there are several circumstances recorded in the Gospels, in connexion with our Lord's birth, life, and death, which, although not in all cases amounting to proper evidences of his deity, are strange and unaccountable, on the principle that he was merely man, and perfectly harmonize with the doctrine of God manifest in the flesh. Foremost among these circumstances stands the mighty miracle wrought at the very point of time when the godhead of Christ became united with humanity-the miracle of his divine conception.
What could be more sublime, or more in accordance with the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, than such a miracle ? what more expressive of the celestial dignity of the child who was about to be born than the salutation addressed to the virgin by the angel Gabriel ? “ Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called THE SON OF THE HIGHEST ; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David : and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and OF HIS KINGDOM THERE SHALL BE NO END:” Luke i, 30. 33 : comp. vers. 42, 43. The star, which arose in the east, guided the
* The whole subject of the worship addressed to Jesus Christ, during his abode on earth, will be found ably treated in discourses delivered at Oxford, in 1816, 1817, by Edward Nares, D.D., and since published.
wise men on their journey, and at length stood still over the place where the young child lay, was a bright and beautiful symbol of his glory whom they came to adore. Nor was it a faint indication of the vast event of deity incarnate, which was afforded to the shepherds during their night watches, when “ the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them :" when he said unto them, “ Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people : for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is CHRIST THE LORD ; and when “ suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will toward men :" Luke ii, 8. 14.
Again, in relation to the ministry of Jesus, how plain a designation of his royal and divine authority was the conspicuous fact, that John the Baptist, than whom there had arisen no greater prophet—he who was filled with the Holy Ghost from his very childhood, and came in the spirit and power of Elijah -should be sent for the professed, the single, purpose
preparing the way for Jesus--of opening the door of entrance for his mighty and majestic successor! And in how striking a manner was the truth of our Lord's divinity confirmed, when the heavens were opened, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a dove, and when his Sonship was vocally proclaimed by Jehovah himself! Still more strongly indicative of the same truth was the glorious scene of our Lord's transfiguration, when on the mountain “ his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light”—when Moses and Elias came to minister to him—and when, from the bright cloud which encompassed them, the voice of God the Father was again heard to break forth—" This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him :" Matt. xvii, 1–5.
To the same purpose may be mentioned, the irresistible influence which often accompanied the mere personal presence of Jesus-an influence before which the efforts of men and devils shrunk into nothing. When the tumultuous Nazarenes were leading him an easy sacrifice, as it appeared, to the brink of the fatal precipice, they had no power to injure him. He passed through the midst of them, and “ went his way:" Luke
When the well-armed band of his enemies discovered him in the garden of Gethsemane, they dared not approach him ; "they went backward, and fell to the ground" John xviii
, 6. 'The evil spirits themselves, who could not but beljeve and tremble, were often by instant terror constrained to
confess his divine authority. Even the stormy winds not only obeyed the voice of Jesus, but subsided into a calm under the simple influence of his presence. No sooner was Jesus entered into the ship, in which his disciples had been tossed on a boisterous sea, than “ the wind ceased :" Matt. xiv, 32.
Very plainly, in the last place, did nature bear her testimony to the mighty authority of her eternal Sovereign, when, as Jesus hung on the cross, during three mid-day hours, and at a period when natural eclipse was impossible, a miraculous darkness covered the whole land ; and when, after he had expired on the cross, the earth quaked, the rocks were torn asunder, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the graves were opened, and the bodies of many saints, who slept, arose.
Well might the “ Centurion and those that were with him, watching Jesus,” when they beheld these wonders, exclaim with trembling, “ Truly this was the Son of God!” Matt. xxvii, 45–54.
V. In order to complete the argument of the present section, I must, in conclusion, adduce certain well-known passages of Scripture, selected partly from the Old and partly from the New Testament, in which the Lord Jesus Christ, in connexion with his incarnation and abode on earth, is described by the names of GOD OR JEHOVAH. These passages will be found to apply, in succession, to his birth, to his life and ministry, to his death, and to his resurrection.
When the apostle John, after declaring that the “Word was God,” proceeded to inform his readers, that the “ Word was made flesh,” he plainly promulgated the doctrine, that the Deity became incarnate : John i, 1, 14. Now, this doctrine forms one of the principal and most distinguished features of several of those prophecies in the Old Testament, which describe the coming of that great moral and spiritual deliverer, the Messiah, or anointed Prince of Israel.
Our first example will be found in Isa. vii. That and the following chapter contain a prophecy which, like many others in the Old Testament, (and especially some in the Psalms) may be regarded as of a mixed or double interpretation. The major part of it relates to the deliverance of the Jews under king Ahaz, from the threatened invasion of the Samaritans and Syrians, and to the utter destruction of those hostile nations; and these events were to take place, it appears, during the boyhood of one of the prophet's sons, and the infancy of the other; for he and his children are declared to have been "for signs and for wonders in Israel :” vii, 16; viii, 4. 18. But, while these subordinate particulars claim a large share of