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THE DEITY OF CHRIST.
He that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, shall have everlasting life.John ví. 40.
THIS text alone, if there were not another such in the whole Bible, would be quite enough to shew, that the question at issue between Unitarians and orthodox Christians concerning the person of Christ is no mere speculative point; but one of nothing less than vital importance. Our Lord here declares it to be essential to everlasting life, not only that we should believe on him as far as we knew him, but that we should know him aright-that we should "see" him. As no one will contend, that Christ's mission was confined to those who saw him with their bodily eyes, I know not what meaning ean possibly be attached to the seeing the Son,' except-spiritually discerning, perceiving, or understanding, his person and office. Now the Unitarian and Trinitarian cannot both do this. They may both believe on him, according to their own apprehension of his person and office; but they cannot both have a right apprehension of them; they cannot both spiritually see the Son." Let us then in this lecture examine with all the attention, which its importance demands, what view scripture gives us of the person of Jesus Christ; and let us humbly seek the Spirit's teaching, to guide us right, as in a matter of life and death. Let us remember, that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know, because they are spiritually discerned;" and that therefore the Spirit must take of the things of Christ, and shew them to us, or we shall remain for ever blind. John xvi. 15.
But before entering on the examination, we must endeavour to clear our minds of any difficulties, that human reason may have laid in the way, about the impossibility of a Godman. Into what opposite extremes may the same principle lead us!-when the principle is a false one. The Swedenborgian of modern days, or the Apollinarian of earlier times, says, I see clear and decisive evidence in scripture for the Godhead of Jesus; and therefore, as I do not see how the
same person can be both God and man, I conclude that he only bore the appearance of a man, and the texts which seem to assert his Manhood must be thus explained. The Unitarian on the other hand says, I see clear and decisive evidence in scripture for the Manhood of Jesus; and therefore, as I do not see how the same person can be both God and man, I feel compelled to give some other rational interpretation to those texts, which seem to assert his Godhead. The orthodox Christian replies, I admit both your premises, and deny both your conclusions. The Swedenborgian is perfectly right as to the positive declarations of scripture concerning the Godhead of Christ; and the Unitarian is equally right as to its no less positive declarations concerning the Manhood of Christ; but why explain either of them away? Why not admit the truth of them both; and acknowledge the natural conclusion, that Godhead and Manhood were united in the person of Jesus ? Oh, they exclaim, It is impossible: we are both agreed about that. But why is it impossible? How do you know it is? Does the Bible tell you, that Godhead and Manhood could not meet in one being? No; but our reason tells us so. Does it indeed? Pray exercise it a little. Does your reason tell you, that God, who is in himself invisible, could not manifest or render himself visible to his creatures, in any shape or form whatever? No; of course God can do all things. Then supposing that God for reasons of his own did choose to manifest himself in some form or other, what shadow of a reason can you give, why such a form as the human body should be a less likely one for him to choose, than any other conceivable form whatever? Does it seem too small for him? Why one a million times as large would be just as small compared with the infinite Jehovah. Can your reason prove, that infinite wisdom could have chosen any other more appropriate size, to be neither above, nor below, the ken of any single intelligent creature? Can your reason prove, that the human form is not the most perfect form in the universe? or that Adam was not made "in the image" of that form, in which God had determined to manifest himself to his creatures;"the figure of him that was to come?" If you had always lived in a world of spirits, would your reason have told you it was impossible, that the same being could be both body and soul? If you had then seen a book, relating the history of a creature called man, which sometimes spoke of his body and sometimes spoke of his soul-would your reason have told you to explain away one half of these expressions, because it could not understand how a "reasonable soul and body" were
one man?" Or descending lower to the common matters of daily life (from which Jesus so loved to draw his illustrations, because he knew they were the easiest to be understood
by the poor and unlearned)—would your reason have been able to conceive, if you had never seen it, how two such different natures as fire and iron could be united in one thing? Tell me, ye that are staggered by the mystery of incarnate Deity, What is a red-hot cannon bail? Fire, or iron? Come, exercise your reason; and answer. Does iron give light and heat ? or does fire possess weight and hardness? Does not reason tell you, that here are two natures, with scarce a property alike, united in one thing; yet neither of them losing its identity, but preserving each its own character and properties. as distinct as ever? And if so, never utter such a libel against her again, as to say she tells you, that Godhead and Manhood cannot be united in one person; and never bring forward texts, which assert Christ's Deity, as arguments against his humanity; or texts which assert his humanity, as arguments against his Deity.
The best method perhaps of taking the scripture evidence on this subject will be to go at once to the New Testament; inasmuch as most of the Old Testament evidence is there referred to, and so will come before us with inspired authority for its application to Christ. Let us begin then by examining whether there are any intimations of the dignity of the person who was to come after him, to be found in the preaching of John the Baptist. There are very few of his sayings recorded, and the main burden of his preaching, we are told, was repentance; yet even from him we have very decided evidence on the point.
Matt. iii. 11. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than 1, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."-"Now let us consider how ought Jews to have understood this saying? No one can doubt that they received the Old Testament scriptures as the inspired word of God. Those scriptures speak of this very matter, and ascribe the outpouring of the Spirit to Him who is both God and man. · And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for. him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.' Zech. xii. 10. Here we have the pierced One, the outpourer of the Spirit, the changer of the hearts of that nation who had crucified him, and have continued to hate and reject him for 1800 years. If we examine the context, we shall find that this pierced One is Jehovah, the Creator, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit. of man within him.' Verse 1.
Baptizing with the Holy Ghost was an idea familiar to the Jewish prophets. We find it again in Ezekiel, in especial connection with the renewal of the heart of Israel. Then will 1 sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.' Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27.
"To the same purpose Isaiah speaks of the man who was marred in visage above all men, as the highly exalted outpourer of the Sprit upon all nations. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.' Isa. lii, 13—15.
"Joel speaks of the same blessing which Peter assures us had its incipient fulfilment at Pentecost, when Jesus had ascended up on high. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young nien shall see visions.' Joel ii 29.
Bringing those passages to bear upon the Baptist's declaration, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,' a mind unprejudiced could not but acknowledge that Jesus was declared by him to be that Being spoken of by the prophets, as both God and man.
"It cannot be objected that Jesus did not assent to what John said, for our Lord's words are in answer to his declaration‘I have need to be baptized of thee,' an office which he declared as his, in saying to the woman of Samaria 'he would have. given thee living water.' John iv. 10.
And now let us consider what it is to baptize with the Holy Ghost. It is to pour out the Divine power upon man, in renewing the heart, in enlightening, cheering, sustaining, and guiding. It is to help in prayer, to deliver in danger, to purify the thoughts, to subdue the unruly wills and passions of sinful men. It is to be wise enough to understand the wants, and rich enough to supply the moral and spiritual ne cessities of a whole world. It is to give to a prophet. his discernment, to an apostle his healing power, to the wise his wisdom, and to the ruler his diligence. It is to fill the world with the manifold grace of God.
"And such is the work of Him of whose fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. John i. 16.
"Let him who has endeavoured to guide and govern one family say what must be the power, skill, and wisdom of Him who is to guide and bless a world. This thought is capable of an expansion which would fill a volume rather than make a paragraph in an essay. I shall therefore leave it to the reader's prayerful meditation. Let him contemplate Jesus as the baptizer with the Holy Ghost, and then seriously ask himself, Who can Jesus be?
"Farther, he was to baptize with fire. This also is an image borrowed from the Prophets. He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap.' Mal. iii. 2. The dispenser of those fiery trials which are to purify his people. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.' I Peter iv. 12. 'I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.' The manner of doing so is described by another prophet. 'He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.' Mal. iii 3.
"To take even one human being and baptize him with fire is a work far exceeding human skill; that is, so to regulate all his circumstances as to give him the exact amount of trial and sorrow which his case needs. In order to this his whole case must be known: what are the events just suited to purify his heart, to meet his feelings, to subdue his self-will, to assimilate his character to God's holiness. There must also be power to control the actions and wills of other men, so as to bring their influence to bear upon him at exactly the right time, and in the best way, so as to result in his spiritual good. It is a power which must be exercised in absence, unseen, unfelt, and unknown by those who are its subjects. Would the holiest and wisest of men undertake such an office towards a single individual? What would we think of Moses, or Paul, or Peter, or John, yea, or of the whole college of Apostles and Prophets undertaking to do so towards the very meanest believer? And yet here is one who performs it towards all who ever have or ever shall have attained to heavenly purity. His therefore is a wisdom capable of understanding the exact character and circumstances of all human beings, a power able to regulate and control all human events, and a skill able to make them all result in everlasting good to them that love God.
"Reader! who is that Being?"*
• Prophetic Herald.