"The faith of a true Christian is the same as that of Moses and the Prophets."
Letter 1. Similarity Between Christ and the Angel
Dear Brother Benjamin,
Permit me now to call your attention to a subject to me the most interesting and important, viz. the divinity of Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Savior. To establish this truth, I will show, first,
That he is the angel Jehovah.
This is evident,
1. First, From the striking similarity between him and that angel who appeared under the Old Testament. I will select but a few particulars.Did the angel appear as a man? (Gen 32:24; Judges 13:16).How beautiful, my dear Benjamin, is the harmony of the Old and New Testaments. Moses bore witness of Jesus, and Jesus came to fulfill all that was written of him. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
So Christ became incarnate (John 1:14).
Did the angel assert that he was sent by Jehovah, and yet that he was equal with him? (Zech 2:11,12).
So did Christ (John 3:34-36, Phil 2:5,6).
Did the angel call himself the "I am"? (Exo 3).
So did Christ (John 8:58).
Did Jacob call the angel Goail, i, e. Kinsman, Redeemer? (Gen 48:16).
So did Christ become our kinsman (Titus 2:14).
Was the angel sent to reveal the will of Jehovah? (Exo 23:20,21).
So Christ came from the bosom of his Father (John 1:18).
Did the angel make the covenant with Abraham? (Judges 2:1).
So Christ was given as a covenant to the people (Isa 42:6).
Was the angel the captain of the Lord's host? (Josh 5:14).
So Christ is the captain of our salvation (Heb 2:10).
Did the angel in love and pity redeem his people? (Isa 63:9).
So Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her (Eph 5:25).
Was it the prerogative of the angel to forgive sins? (Zech 3:4).
So does Christ (Matt 9:6).
Did the angel intercede for Joshua? (Zech 3:2).
So did Christ for Peter (Luke 22:32).
Did the angel bless Abraham and Jacob? (Gen 22:17, 32:29).
So does Christ bless his people (Acts 3:26).
Did the angel commission Moses? (Exo 3:2,14).
So does Christ commission his apostles (Matt 28:19).
Did the angel put his spirit in them? (Isa 63:11).
So did Christ send his holy Spirit (John 15:26).
Did the angel govern the world? (Gen 21:18, 22:17).
So Christ had all power in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18).
Did the angel employ other angels as his ministers? (Zech 1:11, 2:3,4, 6:8).
So does Christ (Heb 1:14).
Did the angel speak out of heaven? (Gen 21:17, 22:15).
So did Christ (John 3:13; Heb 12:25).
Was the angel promised as a leader to Israel? (Exo 23:21).
So is Christ (Isa 55:4).
Was it dangerous to offend this angel? (Exo 23:21).
Much more to disobey Christ (Heb 2:3, 12:25).
2. It further appears that Jesus is the angel Jehovah, from the united testimony of Christian writers.
The learned Dr. Jordan tells us"that all the visible or audible manifestations of God of which mention is made in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, seem to have been appearances of the Word, or the Son of God, acting and speaking in his Father's name: as after the incarnation he acted and spake in his own person; as when he appeared to St. Stephen, to St. Paul, and to other saints and disciples. In this the ancient Christians and most of the moderns are agreed."(1) 1. Ser. fol. 4. p. 218.Dr. Samuel Clarke speaks somewhat more at large. He says:"It is the constant doctrine of all the primitive writers of the Church, that every appearance of God the Father in the Old Testament, was Christ appearing in the name or person of the Father, in the form of God, as being the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15); of him 'whom no man hath seen at any time' (John 1:18); of him whom no man hath seen or can see (1 Tim 1:17)."(2) 2. Script. Doct. p. 93.Again he says:"It is the unanimous opinion of all antiquity, that the angel who said, I am the God of thy fathers (Acts 7:30-32), was Christ the angel of the covenant (Mal 3:1); the angel of God's presence (Isa 63:9); and in whom the name of God was (Exo 23:21), speaking in the name of the invisible Father. See Genesis 16:10; again, Genesis 31:11, 13, and 48:15; Hosea 12:3, 4, and Zechariah 12:8."(3) 3. Ibid. p. 105.The learned Dr. Bellarmy says:"God the Father is never called the angel of God, but the God of Bethel is called the angel of God. Therefore the God of Bethel is not God the Father. The God of Bethel is the same who is called the angel of the covenant in Malachi 3:1; but that angel of the covenant is Christ, therefore the God of Bethel was Christ. The God of Bethel was the God who appeared to Abraham (Gen 12:1-7); to Isaac (Gen 26:24,25); to Jacob (Gen 28:13, 31:13); to Moses (Exo 3:2-6); on Mount Sinai (Exo 20:2); and is usually called the God and King of Israel through the Old Testament. But the God of Bethel was Jesus Christ, therefore Jesus Christ was the God and King of Israel. If Jesus Christ was the God and King of Israel, then may St. Paul be justified in representing him as the Creator of the universe (Col 1:16), and in applying to him in his epistles, what was evidently spoken of the God and King of Israel in the sacred writings of the Old Testament. Compare Psalm 68:18 with Ephesians 4:8, and Psalm 102:25 with Hebrews 1:10. And our blessed Savior may be justified in laying down his life rather than give up his claim. And there was more truth in the title set up over his head when on the cross: 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,' than his crucifiers were aware of; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."(4) 4. Works, fol. 1, p. 467, note.The pious and judicious E. Simpson says,"That the Son of God, before he took upon him human nature, did conduct all the divine dispensations, has been and now is the opinion of some of the most able and learned men of every denomination. I know of none among us who reject the sentiment, except the Deists and Socinians. The Arians and Orthodox are agreed on the subject. And as this opinion, if once fairly established, absolutely subverts the Socinian hypothesis, that Christ had no existence before he was born of the Virgin Mary, we will dwell a little on the subject, and notice such considerations as appear to us altogether conclusive.I can assure you, my dear brother, that these propositions are so established and confirmed as it were upon a rock, that all the opposers of the divinity of the blessed Jesus will never be able to refute them, and I regret exceedingly that they are too long to be transcribed. I proceed therefore to show,
"1. It has been the uniform opinion of men the most competent to judge, though on other subjects they widely differ from each other. 2. It appears from the internal marks of many of those dispensations recorded in Scripture. 3. From the application of many passages of the Old Testament to the Son of God, in the New, by the apostles who wrote under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit; which passages can be applied to no merely created being whatever. 4. From the opinion of the most able and learned of the ancient Jewish writers, who usually applied the appearance of God, both before and during their own dispensation, to the Logos. 5. From the uniform sense of the Christian Church, even in its best and purest ages. If we can establish these five propositions, it will be easily granted that Christ in his divine nature conducted all the dispensations of God from the beginning."(5) 5. P. 123.
Secondly, That Jesus Christ possesses all the Divine criteria.
3. He is called God. It is granted that his name (God) is given to creatures, but it is apparent that in such cases it is either given in the plural number, (as to angels and magistrates,) or if used in the singular number, it is in such a particular sense, and under such circumstances and limitations, as plainly show it is applied only in a figurative sense; as when Moses is said to be a god to Aaron, that is, instead of God, and when he is said to be made a god to Pharaoh (Exo 7:1), it is limited, and signifies no more than that he should represent God's authority in commanding, and exert his power in punishing Pharaoh. It is evident that Moses was not a god by nature, because he was a made god, which the true God is not; and he is said to be a god only to Pharaoh, whereas the true God "is over all, God blessed for ever" (Rom 9:5). Magistrates must die (Psa 82:7), and angels are but ministering spirits. In like manner the devil is called the god of this world; here again is a limitation, but when ascribed to Jesus it is without limitation in any circumstances that should lead us to a figurative sense of the word; nay, on the contrary, it is used in such a manner as leads us to take the title in its true and proper sense. Hence, in accordance with the prediction (Isa 7:14), He was called Immanuel, i. e, God with us (Matt 1:23), without any limitation.
The apostle John says: "This is the true God and eternal life," and then adds, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." Now it has been properly observed that it is very unlikely that the apostle should conclude his epistle with such a solemn charge against idolatry, and yet in the foregoing verse leave his expression concerning the true God so easily and so naturally to be interpreted concerning Jesus Christ, if he were not the true God. Again, he is called the mighty God (Isa 9:6), and the great God (Titus 2:13); and you know, dear Benjamin, that this last expression is the distinguishing name of Jehovah. See Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18, 19.
Further, he is called the only wise God. Jude v 24,25, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." That this doxology is ascribed to Jesus is evident from Ephesians 5:25, 27; where he is said to present the church. Farther, this name is also ascribed to him, Romans 16:27, and 1 Timothy 1:17. Again, Jesus Christ is called the only God, or God and none else; for Isaiah 45:22-25, is applied to Jesus by the apostle (Rom 14:10,11); and yet this is the peculiar name of Jehovah, as appears from Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; and Isaiah 45:5. Again, the apostle calls him, Romans 9:5, "God blessed for ever." Now I wish you, my dear Benjamin, to notice particularly that this description, God blessed for ever, is an incommunicable name of the true God, and is no where in Scripture given to any mere creature. The apostle gives it as a distinguishing character from all that are called gods, "who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 1:25). And you know that it has ever been the custom of our people, when they speak of the true and living God, to add, "Blessed be he"; and sometimes, "for ever and ever. Amen."
Hence the question proposed by the high priest was, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" and when Christ had answered it in the affirmative, the high priest rent his clothes (as an expression of mourning) and said, "What need we any further witnesses? ye have heard the blasphemy" (Mark 14:61, 63, 64). Now, if the apostle had believed our Savior to be no more than a dignified creature, he could not have put a greater stumbling-block before our people, to harden them in their unbelief and prejudice against Christ, than by giving him a name and character which they had always appropriated to the great Jehovah.
4. Jehovah, or Jehovah of hosts, is the next incommunicable name which is also ascribed to Jesus.
That this is the peculiar name of the true and living God, and never given to any mere intelligent being, has been proved before, and I will now show that it is ascribed to the Messiah in several places in the Old Testament, which are applied to him by the Rabbins, and which are quoted in the New Testament and applied to Jesus Christ.
The Lord of hosts, whom Isaiah 8:13, 14, foretold would be a sanctuary to some, and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to others, good old Simeon and the apostle Peter apply to Jesus Christ (Luke 2:34; 1 Peter 2:7); and our own nation to the present day is an awful proof of its fulfillment.
The Lord of hosts, whom Isaiah saw seated on a throne, and who was worshiped by the seraphims and cherubims, we are assured by the evangelist John, was our blessed Jesus. Compare Isa 6:1-10,
with John 12:40, 41.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Again, the Lord God, (Jehovah Elohim,) whose way was to be prepared in the wilderness, is Jesus Christ our Lord, whose way was prepared by John the Baptist, as has been fully shown before, (see Part Four, Letter 7, Section 6, etc.).
The title King of glory, which is Jehovah of hosts in Psalm 24, is ascribed to Jesus Christ by the apostle (1 Cor 2:8); and in the Revelation of St. John 17:14; and 19:16, Christ is called King of kings and Lord of lords. Now, if Christ was not the Lord of glory before his crucifixion, the force of the apostle's argument with the church at Corinth, in the forecited passage, vanishes, and the application of that title is unbecoming, for Jehovah claims it as his own (Deut 10:17; Psa 136:2,3).
In the following passage we have a glorious description of the triumph of Jehovah: "He rides upon the heavens by his name Jah. The earth shook, the heavens dropped at the presence of God, the God of Israel. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels. The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men" (Psa 68:4,8,17,18). Now this passage is applied to the ascension of Christ into heaven (Eph 4:8,10). Christ is, therefore, this Lord, this God, this Jehovah or Jah, whose triumph is there described. To these passages I might add Jeremiah 23:5, 6, 33:15, 16, compared with 1 Corinthians 1:30; Zechariah 11:12, compared with Matthew 27:9, 10, &c. &c.; but I close this paragraph by observing, that since the title of Jehovah, or Jehovah of hosts, is a principal mark of distinction by which the true God was pleased to manifest himself, and to set forth his own superior excellency in opposition to all pretended deities; and since the writers of the New Testament have assured us that Christ is Jehovah, or Lord of hosts, and consequently possessed of all those distinguishing powers and perfections which go along with that title, the consequence is evident and undeniable, that they considered Christ to be God in the true, strict, and proper sense, eternal and immutable, of the same power, nature, and perfections with God the Father.
5. It is proper to observe in this place, that the writers of the New Testament frequently quote passages from the Old, either in proof of their doctrine, or to show that the predictions of prophets are fulfilled. Whenever this is their point in view, the passages they quote from the Old Testament must, in their literal sense, signify what they are alledged to signify. It is inexcusable in interpreters of sacred Scripture to pretend "that the apostles cite the authority of the Old Testament in the Jewish way of drawing conclusions, which in sound logic would have been rejected." If they were under the influence of the Spirit of God, we cannot suppose their writings to contain any false reasoning, however common it might have been among their countrymen to argue absurdly. To say that Christ and his apostles applied quotations merely by way of accommodation, is most ridiculous and profane. The following quotation is from the learned Bishop Sherlock:"Our blessed Savior claims to himself that awful name, I Am, which belongs to the Supreme Being. Before Abraham was, I Am. Had our Savior only said, before Abraham was, I was, thus much at least would have been the consequence, that he had an existence before Abraham; but, now that he says, before Abraham was, I am, something more is implied, something that peculiarly belongs to the expression I am; and what that is, we may learn from the original use of the words. They are the words which God made choice of to express his own eternity and power. When Moses inquired after the name of God, he answered him, 'I am that I am. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am has sent me unto you' (Exo 3:14). What now could tempt our Savior to use and apply this expression to himself? He knew that it had never been applied to any but God, and would have been, in the man so applying it, in the highest degree to commit the robbery of making himself equal with God."(6) 6. Disc. 1, fo. 4.It is evident, from the context, that the Jews understood our Savior as asserting his own divinity, for they immediately took up stones to stone him for blasphemy; and Christ, instead of making the smallest apology for what he had said, or attempting in the least to explain himself in any other sense, exerted his supernatural power and escaped out of their hands, leaving them in full possession of the opinion they had formed concerning him.
6. I pass on to the next title ascribed to the Messiah in the Old Testament, and applied to Jesus Christ in the New, which is that of the "First and the Last" (Isa 44:6, 48:12), compared with Revelation 1:8, 11, 2:8. In the first of these passages, viz. 1:8, the Lord Jesus Christ is called Jehovah, or what is equivalent, He that was, is, and is to come; and the incommunicable attributes of omnipotence and eternity are ascribed to him.
7. I will close this part of our subject by noticing the title of the "Son of God," by which Jesus Christ is so frequently called.
We have already seen that the Messiah was expected to be the Son of God (Psa 2:7, 89:26,27; Isa 9:6). As the expression "Son of man" refers to and expresses the reality of his human nature, so the phrase "Son of God" refers to and expresses the reality of his divine nature. On two different occasions Peter confessed him to be the Son of God, where it is evident he must have reference to his divinity. The first is recorded John 6:69, and the second in Matthew 16:17. They read thus: "We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." Again, "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Now these confessions consist of two parts, viz. that Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of God. With respect to the first, Peter declares his conviction that Jesus was the illustrious person pointed out by the prophets, as the Lord's anointed to the work of salvation; and with this he subjoins his other character as the Son of God, because no one was to be the anointed of Jehovah but he to whom he had said, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Psa 2:7). Now, as he is denominated that Christ, to distinguish him from all the anointed prophets; so he is denominated that Son, to distinguish him from believers, who are sons by regeneration and adoption; from all the Jews, who, because of their lawful descent from Abraham, said that God was their Father (John 8:41), and to whom, in a natural respect, belongs the adoption; and from angels, who by creation are the sons of God. Now, if these expressions, viz. thou art that Christ, and the Son of the living God, were synonymous, and meant no more than that Jesus is the Messiah, then the apostle's confession would have been no more than that which the carnal Jews had frequently made, John 6:14, 15, and would therefore by force make him a king; but when Christ asserted his divinity, they were offended, and forsook him; which led to the confession of Peter. Besides, it is evident, from our Lord's observation, that Peter's confession referred to his divinity, and not to his office as Messiah. The miracles which Jesus wrought were sufficient evidence to convince the carnal Jew that he was the Messiah; but that he was the Son of God, was revealed to Peter by the Father. For you know, my dear Benjamin, that nothing is more frequent with our Rabbins than the phrase flesh and blood, as denoting men in distinction from God. Hence they say"the first man was the work of the blessed God, and not the work of flesh and blood."(7) 7. Zohar. Gen. fo. 43. c. 3.Hence the sense is, that Peter had not received this knowledge from men, but from God. The doctrine of the deity of Christ is of pure revelation. That there is a God, is discoverable by the light of nature; but that he has a Son of the same nature with himself, and equal to him, which is the Messiah, the Savior of lost sinners, could never have been found out by flesh and blood; "for no man knoweth the Son but the Father, and he to whom he reveals him" (Matt 11:27). Happy are they who are blessed with the outward revelation of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, but more blessed they to whom the Father reveals Christ in them the hope of glory. Farewell.
Letter 2. Divine Criteria Ascribed to Jesus
Having shown that the incommunicable names and titles of Deity are applied to Jesus Christ,
1. I proceed to show that the incommunicable attributes of Jehovah are also ascribed to him. As he who wants one of these attributes cannot be God; for God is infinitely perfect; so he who possesses but one infinite perfection, must possess all the rest; for none but a true God is infinite. Now, of Christ it is said, that "in him dwelled all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9).
Eternity is an incommunicable perfection of Jehovah (Psa 90:2), and is ascribed to the Messiah by the prophet Micah (5:2); and to Jesus Christ (Matt 2:6). Christ was not only before Abraham, but long before Adam; for his goings forth have been Meolamim, i. e. before time commenced (Micah 5:2). Hence he is called the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Ending.
Immutability is another divine criterion (Psa 102:25-27), and is applied to Jesus Christ (Heb 1:10-12, 13:8).
Omnipresence, which is the peculiar property of Deity, is claimed by Jesus Christ himself; who declared that he was in heaven at the same time whilst he was on the earth conversing with Nicodemus (John 3:13); and he promised his presence wherever two or three are met in his name (Matt 18:20), and wherever his Gospel is preached.
This was the great encouraging promise of Jehovah, under the Old Testament. See Deuteronomy 23:14; Isaiah 12:6, 58:9; Jeremiah 14:9; Joel 2:27; Haggai 1:13; Zephaniah 3:16.
Omniscience is another attribute of Deity. The knowledge of men's thoughts is a divine prerogative. This knowledge God expressly claims as his own (Isa 66:18). "I know the heart." Nay with this he puts all creatures to defiance. Jeremiah 17:9, 10, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings." The faith of the saints under the Old Testament corresponded with such declarations; hence David assigns this work to God, saying, "Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart" (Psa 44:21). Again he says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts" (Psa 139:23). And Solomon says, "Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give unto every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men" (1 Kings 8:39). Now the evangelists ascribe to our Savior the knowledge of the thoughts of men (Matt 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22, 6:8, 9:47, 11:47). And Jesus Christ himself claims this knowledge, saying, "All the churches shall know that I am he which searches the reins and hearts" (Rev 2:23). Besides, he hears and answers the prayers of his people (John 14:13,14), which requires the attribute of omniscience.
Almighty power is also one of the divine criteria, and is claimed by Jesus Christ. To raise the dead requires almighty power; but Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19); Acts 2:24, compared with John 10:18. Again he says, ''I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again." From these passages it clearly appears that Jesus Christ had an actual existence and possessed almighty power at the very time his body was lying lifeless in the grave. Jesus Christ also possesses almighty power to raise others from the dead; for he can, by his commanding voice, cause the dead to hear and rise out of their graves (John 5:21,25,28). And accordingly this raising of the dead, and changing of our vile body, to fashion it like to his glorious body, are by the Apostle Paul said to be effected "according to the working of his mighty power, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself" (Phil 3:21)expressions which import his power to be absolute and irresistible. But this divine power will appear more clearly as we proceed to consider,
2. The works peculiar to Deity are ascribed to Jesus Christ also; for Jesus said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work: what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:17,19). The creation of the world is the exclusive work of Jehovah, as has been shown before. But the creation of the universe is the work of Jesus Christ. Compare Psalm 102:25-27, with Hebrews 1:10-12; read also carefully, John 1:2, 3, 14; Colossians 1:16, 17. On this subject Saint Austin reasons thus:"Christ, by whom all things were made, cannot be made himself; and if Christ be not made, then he is not a creature; but if he be not a creature, then he must be of the same substance with the Father; for all substance or being which is not God, is necessarily a creature, and what a creature is not, that God is. Now, if the Son is not of the same substance of which the Father is, he must necessarily be a created substance, and if he be a created substance, then all things could not be made by him; bul all things were made by him, therefore he is of the same substance with the Father, and consequently is not only God, but the true God"(8) 8. De Trinit. fo. 1.That Christ was not a mere instrument which God used in the work of creation, is plain from this, that the Scriptures not only teach that Christ was the very supreme God himself that created all things (Psa 102:25; Heb 1:10), but also that no instrument was used in that work. It was wrought immediately by God himself; as it is written, "God himself formed the earth, and made it" (Isa 44:22, 45:18).
The preservation and government of all things is as much the work of God as their first creation. But Christ is said to uphold all things by the word of his power (Heb 1:3), and therefore he must be truly God.
The miracles of Jesus Christ, which have been considered, in a former letter, as a proof of his Messiahship, might be considered also as a proof of his true divinity. But I proceed to consider,
3. The work of redemption, which is the peculiar work of Jehovah, but is every where ascribed to Jesus Christ, and therefore is a clear demonstration of his divinity. To magnify the law of God, and to make it honorable; to atone for our sins, and deliver us from the wrath to come; to redeem us from the curse of the law, and free us from the tyranny of sin and Satan, the fear of death, and the misery of hell: to restore us to the lost favor of God, to the acceptance of our person and services, and to a title to, and fitness for, eternal life; to accomplish all this, and much more, included in the work of redemption, required not only that the Redeemer should be partaker of flesh and blood, to be our Goel, i. e. kinsman and brother, but he must also be equal with God, the offended party, as has been shown in a former letter. Besides, the act of forgiving sin is the prerogative of God (Isa 43:25). But Jesus Christ forgave sins whilst on earth (Mark 2:5-12), and "him has God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). And to him the Martyr Stephen prayed, saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 2:60).
4. To raise the dead is another work peculiar to God only; but Jesus Christ declared that he could raise himself from the dead, as has been shown before; and by his voice and almighty power all the dead will be raised and brought to judgment, and the proceedings of that awful day will prove, beyond all contradiction, the true and proper divinity of Jesus Christ (John 5:28,29; 1 Thess 4:16,17). For, my dear Benjamin, how can we suppose a being destitute of the divine perfections capable of such a work? It certainly requires an omniscient mind and an almighty arm to manifest the secrets of all hearts, and to discover and punish the infinite variety of secret wickedness in the heart of man, as well as proclaim and reward the secret workings of piety in those that have loved God.
5. I proceed now to show that divine worship which is due to Jehovah only, is also applied to Jesus Christ. I have already proved, both from reason and Scripture, that religious worship belongs to the true and living God only; if, therefore, it can be proved that Jesus Christ both required and received such worship, it will follow that he possesses real and proper divinity in common with his eternal Father; or else it will follow that Christ himself was guilty of blasphemy, and all the apostles and first Christians robbed God of his incommunicable honor, and were guilty of idolatry. That Jesus Christ did require and receive such worship, is abundantly evident from the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Revelation of St. John, and from the testimony of the fathers in the Christian church. The Lord Jesus Christ himself has told us that it is the will of the Father that all men should honor the Son as they do the Father (John 5:23). Calling on the name of the Lord is considered divine worship (Joel 2:32; Isa 28:11), and it is ascribed to Jesus Christ as the object of that worship (Rom 10:11-15). This calling on the name of the Lord is made the character of the saints (Acts 9:14,21). Further, we are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as we believe in God (John 14:1). We are to love him supremely, more than father or mother, &c. (Luke 14:26). Now, if the love here demanded be not supreme, it is impossible to find any other that can come under this description. It implies all that God claims in the first commandment (Matt 22:37,38). Christ also requires unreserved subjection (Matt 11:29; Col 3:24), and devotedness to him (2 Cor 5:14; Matt 28:19).
Again, praise and thanksgiving due unto God are ascribed equally unto Christ. The doxoiogies are addressed to Christ as well as to the Father (1 Tim 1:17, 6:16; 1 Peter 4:11, 5:10,11; Rev 1:5, 5:13, 7:10). Again, prayer and supplication are made to Christ as well as to the Father (Rom 1:7, 16:24; 1 Cor 1:3, 16:23). The Apostle Paul prayed three times to Christ (2 Cor 12:8,9). Stephen also directed his prayer to Jesus (Acts 7:59,60). See also 1 Thessalonians 3:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17; Revelation 22:17, 20, 21.
6. Says Novatian,"If Christ is only a man how is he every where present to those who call upon him? since this is not the nature of man, but of God. If Christ is only a man, why does man invoke him in prayer as Mediator? since the invocation of a man must be considered as ineffectual to the accomplishing of deliverance and salvation. If Christ is nothing more than a mere man, why our hope and trust put in him? seeing cursed is the hope that is placed in man."(9) 9. De Trinit. ch. 14.If Christ be not God, then to worship him would be idolatry. If to worship Christ is idolatry, then Paul, it must be acknowledged, was provided by Jesus Christ himself with a very bad spiritual director; for Ananias undoubtedly exhorted him to worship Christ, saying, "Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). If Paul had considered Jesus as a mere man, would he have believed that he could make him an instrument in enlightening the understandings and changing the heart of sinners, and of delivering them from the power of Satan? Would he believe that Jesus could give them pardon and glory; that he was the object of faith; and that faith in him could be the means of sanctification? Would he confide in him for deliverance from the heathen, or even submit to receive a commission from him? Immediately after his conversion, he testified his full conviction of the divinity of Christ (Acts 9:20).
7. Let it be further noticed, that Christ received divine worship without any check or reproof (Matt 28:17; Luke 24:52; John 20:28). Not so with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, and the angel; they all forbid such worship to be given to them (Acts 10:25,26, 14:14,15; Rev 19:10, 22:9). Now, as nothing less than God can be the proper object of our adorations, therefore when Christ assures us that he will present all our supplications, and that he will perform our petitions, he encourages and directs us to address our prayers to him, as well as to the Father; and thereby declares himself God as unequivocally as by any appellation the most expressive of divinity.
8. Further, upon supposition that Christ was no more than a mere good man, exalted by the pleasure of the Father, the sacred Scriptures abound with strange, unguarded language. There is an indecency and impropriety, an unsuitableness in such representations; for they are calculated to mislead and deceive. It has justly been observed, that neither Moses nor the prophets exhibited their testimony as the foundation of faith; they always referred to divine authority, prefacing their declarations with a "Thus saith the Lord." But Jesus speaks in his own name; and requires faith in his testimony, on the ground of his own authority (John 4:41, 14:11). Thus, true faith fixes on the very name of the Son of God as every way worthy to be its proper object: it is subjection of the whole soul to him; a captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5); a submission of our will to his (Psa 45:5, 110:3); an acknowledgment of his sovereign authority over the conscience (Matt 28:20), and a recognition of his right to supreme affections (Luke 14:26). Faith is a fleeing for refuge to him as the hope set before us (Heb 6:18); a firm persuasion of his ability to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). It is a resting of the soul on him (Matt 11:28,29), and an unbounded confidence in him (Matt 12:21; Eph 1:12,13). Faith respects Jesus as its author and finisher (Heb 12:2); as the very spring and support of spiritual life (Gal 2:20); and as the giver of eternal life (John 10:28). It is a commitment of the soul to him (Matt 22:37). And this cannot be in well-doing, unless he be a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). In a word, it is a surrender of the whole person to him as his property, and a constant proposal of his glory as the supreme end, whether in life or in death (2 Cor 8:5; Rom 14:8; Phil 1:20). Let any man in his senses judge if there be a creature, either in heaven or on earth, worthy of such faith and worship.
9. Besides, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, of which Christ is the author, and in which he is the object of divine worship, prove him to be the true and living God. In baptism we solemnly dedicate our faith, worship and service to the Son, as well as to the Father and the Holy Ghost.
If there were no other foundation for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in unity than the command of our Lord and Savior in this ordinance, what higher authority or sanction could we have for believing and obeying it? "Go," says he, "and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt 28:19). Jesus Christ uttered these words after his resurrection from the grave, and his victory over death and hell. He is the eternal Amen; he cannot err. He spoke to poor, illiterate men, who knew there was but one God and who naturally had an extreme abhorrence for any thing which has the least show of weakening this great truth. Yet these very men are commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Here mention is clearly made of three different persons. It is evident he does not enjoin baptism in the name of any quality or virtue; nor does he wish to confound the creature with the Creator, but rather to establish a perfect equality among the three; for he invariably taught the unity of God. Consequently it is manifest that God, in whose name alone it is lawful to administer baptism, is the same one Supreme who is distinguished under three characters or personsof Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We cannot reject, therefore, this doctrine so plainly taught by Jesus Christ, under pretence that, if we receive it, we admit three gods, without impeaching Wisdom himself (Pro 8:22-31).
10. The Lord's Supper is designed to honor our blessed Savior, by a grateful commemoration of his dying love; by the exercise of a lively faith in him; by a renewed dedication of ourselves to him, as our Lord and Savior, and by a public ascription of endless glory and dominion.
11. The importance of the subject, I hope, my dear Benjamin, will be a sufficient apology for having detained you so long; and I will now close this letter with the sentiment of the pious Bishop Horne,"What shall we then say to these things? What can we say? but that He, to the invocation of whose name salvation is promised: He whose name his disciples, before they were called Christians, invoked, and were known to be his disciples by so doing; He, in whose name the apostles were accustomed to give their benedictions, and concerning whom St. John says, that whatever we ask of him, according to his will, we shall have the petitions we desire of him; He, who was worshiped by men on earth, without reproving them for it, and to whom in heaven all the angelic hosts, with the spirits of the redeemed, and the whole creation of God, give glory and honor; He, whom the church universal professed, from the beginning, to adore, and into whose hands the dying martyrs, from Stephen downward, committed their departing spirits; He, to whose service and worship, with that of the Father and the Holy Ghost, every Christian is dedicated in baptism; that this person is indeed what St. Paul certainly styles him, God over all, blessed for ever (Rom 9:5), and that we all may, and ought to use the words of St. Thomas: 'My Lord and my God' (John 20:28)."(10) 10. Fo. 5, disc. 34.Farewell.When first the God of boundless grace
Disclos'd his kind design,
To rescue our apostate race
From mis'ry, shame, and sin;
Quick through the realms of light and bliss
The joyful tidings ran;
Each heart exulted at the news,
That God would dwell with man.
Yet, 'midst their joys, they paus'd awhile,
And ask'd with strange surprise,
"But how can injur'd justice smile,
"Or look with pitying eyes?"
The Son of God attentive heard,
And quickly thus replied,
"In me let mercy be rever'd,
"And justice satisfied.
"Behold! my vital blood I pour "A sacrifice to God;
"Let angry justice now no more
"Demand the sinner's blood."
He spake, and heaven's high arches rung
With shouts of loud applause;
"He died!" the friendly angels sung,
Nor ceas'd their rapt'rous joys.
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