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1 CORINTHIANS, i. 21. For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew mot God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
THE language and conduct of the disciples of Christ prove, that they received him as a divine person. John tells us, (chap. v. 23.) that it is the will of God, “ that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him.” Compared with Heb. i. 6. “ And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” The best comment on such passages will probably be found, in the conduct of his immediate followers. If they, who were favoured with divine inspiration, actually worshipped him, we may safely believe that they received him as very and eternal God. This then really was the case with Stephen. “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Here we see a pious martyr in the hour of dissolution, addressing himself to Jesus Christ in a solemn act of religious worship: therefore we conclude Jesus Christ is truly God.
In 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. we observe that Paul
prays to Christ when there was given to him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satán to buffet him : “For this thing, Í besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from mé. And he said unto me, My grâce is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” What follows proves that by the Lord whom he addressed, Christ is intended. “ Most gladly théré. fore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rést upon me.” The Lord had promised him that his grace should be sufficient for him ; this grace he calls the power of Christ ; sig . nifying, that the Lord Christ, to whom he addressed himself, had given him this gracious answer.
Though there are many other texts in the writings of the apostles that are of the same import, * I shall only mention the following plain, decisive passage : “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders : and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand; say. ing with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”
I appeal to every unprejudiced mind, whether there can possibly be a more solemn act
John xiv. 1. Rom. I. 12, 13. Rom. X$. 12. 1 Cor. ix. Acts ix. 14, &c.
of supreme worship than this, which is ascribed equally to the Lamb that was slain, as to him that sitteth upon the throne ? And will any man, after reading this passage, hesitate a moment, whether he ought to pay the highest honour to the Son of God, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person?
What idea would a man of common sense form of the character of Jesus Christ, upon reading Philip. ii. 6. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God?" Would he not naturally think, either that Jesus Christ is a divine person, or that he was guilty of the most horrid impiety? It would have been a robbery of the most blasphemous kind, for a creature, however exalted, to claim equality with Jehovah : and instead of his being celebrated for his humility, he ought to be considered as a monster of pride and wickedness. But if we ad. mit the idea of his true and proper deity, we are at once led to admire his unparalleled condescen. sion. He,“ being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." The moment we deny the divinity of Christ, I conceive we destroy the apostle's argument.
“ The following words, as they stand in our translation, go on to describe the excellency of his glory, which was so real and transcendent a glory, that · he thought it not robbery to be,' i, e. he thought himself entitled to be equal
with God.' But I shall not insist upon this translation ; for it is more agreeable to the apostle's are gument and to the language made use of, to suppose him to intend in these words to express the first degree or instance of his humility, and that the verse should be rendered by words to this effect : Who being in the form of God, was not fond or tenacious of appearing as God, but made himself of no reputation.
I shall not trouble you with the particular reasons of this rendering, which would lead us too far into crit. ical inquiries; but which way soever the text be understood, the sò vivees loc Otrợ will be found to belong to Jesus Christ. If he thought it not robbery to assume this equality with God, (whatever is meant by it) undoubtedly he was equal; or if it was the effect of his humility that he did not hold or insist upon his equality with God, then certainly he had such an equality; for where is the humility of not insisting on, or not retaining an equality, which never did or could belong to
It was in the contemplation of this astonishing truth, that our apostle thus exclaims, “ And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh.” That it was so, is a truth revealed, but the manner of it is past finding out.
To what hath been said on this subject I will only add, Col. ii. 9. “ For in him," i. e. Christ, “ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bod. ily.” It seems that Paul could say no more than this to establish the deity of his Master. What
* Bishop Sherlock's discourses on this passage, Vol. IV. p. 24, 252
a striking gradation is here; in Christ dwells the Godhea:t-the fullness of the Godhead-yea, all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Then surely he is very and eternal Gud. Let us then, my breth. ren, amidst the numerous attempts that are made to rob Christ of his essential glory, without any secret reserve or double meaning, ascribe blessing, and honour, and glory, and power to Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.
It would be easy to prove by the sacred scriptures, that the same divine names, titles, attri. butes and works are ascribed to Christ, that are ascribed to the Father ; but I hope enough has been said to make it evident, that his true and proper deity was an essential part of apostolic preaching
Several of the passages of scripture that we have been considering prove also the incarnation of the Son of God; or that the divine and human natures were united in him. For instance, “God was manifest in the flesh.” He that was in the form of God was found in fashion as a man. Also Heb. ii. 16. “ For verily he took not on him the nature of angels ; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The person spoken of is Christ, who existed prior to his birth of Mary, in a nature different from that which he assumed. “Verily he took”-here we have a personal action : he who was properly divine, “ took on him the seed (or nature) of Abraham.” Thus the word was made flesh ; i. ę, be. came united to the nature of man.
I pass to observe, that the apostles preached Christ as the all-atoning sacrifice for sin. Peter declares that “ he bare our sins in his own body