« PreviousContinue »
and equal worship was given to Him that sat on the throne and to the Lamb; for John says, “ 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 honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."*
But are we to imagine that these are two distinct Divine Beings ? confine our ideas strictly to the literal expressions, we may indeed form such a conception ; but then, to heighten the absurd. ity, we must suppose that one of them is actually in the form of a lamb. This alone ought to convince us that two separate persons are not meant. For can we conceive, that when angels are favored with a sight of the Object of worship, they in reality see two, one sitting upon a throne, and the other in the form of a lamb, “ in the midst of the throne ?t Surely not. But when the angels are favored with the beatific vision, they behold their God in one single Person and in a Divine Human Form, and are penetrated at once with the deepest feelings of adoration both to the Divine Essence and to the Divine Humanity, in, and by which latter, the former is rendered apprehensible to them as an object of sight and worship. This combined perception of Divinity and Humanity which angels experience on the sight of their Lord, could not be expressed in natural lan. guage, without the use of much circumlocution and definition, which is a style quite foreign to that in which the scriptures are written, and wholly unsuited to be the vehicle of that fullness of wisdom with which they are replete. The Scripture style consists in expressing spiritual ideas by the rise of natural images; by which means the most extensive amplitude of meaning is conveyed in a few words. It is literally true, that if all that is contained in the Scriptures were given in the style used in ordinary compositions, “Even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”¥ It is thus that, instead of diffusely speaking of the Essential Divinity and Divine Humanity, as we are obliged to do in offering our explanations, the Scriptures here simply speak of “ Him that sitteth on the throne and the Lamb,” in which brief expressions more is implied than the most intelligent of the angelic hosts will ever be able to exhaust. But to prevent even the weak among mankind from being misled by this emblematic mode of expression, the truth shines through it with sufficient lucidity to enlighten the minds of all who do not prefer to abide in darkness. Thus, in the present instance, mention is first made of the worship, by the angelic hosts, of Him that sat upon the throne ; presently, the very same adoration is given to the Lamb; next, both are
| See ver. 6.
† John. xxi. 25.
* Ver. 13.
worshiped distinctly together; and lastly, both are worshiped unitedly together; for the chapter concludes with saying, “and the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that liveth forever and ever; where it is evident that the phrase, “ Him that liveth forever and ever,” denotes the same Divine Being, viewed perfectly as One, as had been called in the preceding verse, in reference to his first two Essentials,“ Him that sitteth upon the throne and the Lamb.” That this epithet, “ He that liveth forever and ever,” is meant to include both the first Essentials of the Divine Nature, is clear from its being elsewhere applied to each of them distinctly. We have seen in a former quotation, that He that sat on the throne is called • He that liveth forever and ever;
;*** in another instance, Jesus Christ takes the same title : for he says, “ I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever more :" where the words translated “ alive for ever more," are, in the original Greek, the same as are elsewhere translated “ He that liveth forever and ever. These remarks may serve to explain other passages in which the Divine Being is spoken of in terms which imply duality or triplicity; in all such instances we are not to understand a duality or triplicity of persons, but of Essential Principles in the Divine Nature, constituting together One Person.
Thus we find, from an attention to the Old and New Testaments in all their parts, That JESUS IS JEHOVAH; That He AND THE FATHER ARE ONE, INSOMUCH THAT WHOSO SEETH HIM SEETH THE FATHER; THAT HE IS OVER ALL, GOD BLESSED FOREVER; THAT HE IS THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF ALL THINGS BY AND FOR HIMSELF; THAT HE IS GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH THAT HE IS THE GREAT GOD, THE LORD OF GLORY, THE INSPIRER OF THE PROPHETS, THE ONLY WISE GOD; THAT HE IS THE FIRST AND THE LAST ; AND THAT, WITH RESPECT TO HIS HUMANITY AS WELL AS HIS DIVINITY, HE IS THE OBJECT OP WORSHIP OF ALL THE ANGELIC Hosts. Can we then hesitate to admit, that the testimony and spirit of all prophecy respecto ing Him is, that HE IS THE SUPREME AND ONLY Divine BEING ? Can any one fear to imitate the conduct of Thomas, when his incredulity was removed, and with a fullness of acknowledgment that excludes the possibility of thinking of any other cry to Him from the bottom of his heart, “ My LORD AND MY God !"}
Since then the doctrine of the Sole Divinity of Jesus Christ, is alike free from the objections which reason urges against the Tri-personal system, and from the contrariety to Scripture which is manifest in the Unitarian scheme, with what confi. * Ch. iv. 10.
i Ch. i. 18.
| John xx, 28.
dence may it be recommended, and with what delight should it be received, as the only view of divine truth capable of relieving the mind from all perplexity! Whilst it delivers us from the anarchy and contradictions of Tritheism, it preserves to us all the consolation conveyed in the idea of a Divine Saviour. It removes all obscurity, all room for doubt, and presents us with an Object of worship, on which the understanding can fix itself, and which the heart can embrace with all its best affec. lions.
THE TRINITY, AS CENTERED IN THE PERSON OF THE LORD
All Objections to the Doctrine fall to the ground, when certain
Truths are known relating to the Lord as the Son of God, and the Glorification of his Humanity.
The grand truth of the Sole Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, or that he is Jehovah clothed with Humanity, and that the Father and He are strictly One, has been, I trust, abundantly proved from Scripture ; whence it necessarily follows, that the whole Trinity is centered in his Glorious Person. Doubts, however, may remain in the minds of some, unless they are made acquainted with certain other truths requisite for the elucidation of these very general ones, and capable of taking away the grounds of all the objections which can be raised against the doctrine. By presenting these, I trust we shall again, though by a different route, arrive at complete proof of the doctrine itself.
The objections to the doctrine that the whole Divine Trinity is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Person is thus the person of the Father, are chiefly drawn from thesc two sources: First, from the belief, that the Being who became incarnate was a son of God born from eternity ; here, therefore, I shall endeavor to show, that the phrase, “ Son of God,” is the proper title of the Humanity born in time, and that the Being who assumed that Humanity was the One Jehovah : SECONDLY, objections are raised from the fact, that Jesus Christ, while in the world, sometimes spoke as if the Father were a separate Being froin Himself: here, therefore, I shall endeavor to show, That
while in the world, he was engaged in the work of glorifyir. his Humanity, or making it Dirine, as part of his great work of Redemption : Thus that so long as he was in the world there was a part of his nature which was not divine ; but that the work of glorifying the whole was completed at his resurrection and ascension ; that all belonging to him had then been made divine ; and that thus he now ever liveth and reigneth, with the Father, an Indivisible One, the Only God of Heaven and earth. When these truths are seen, the ground of all the objections which can plausibly be raised against the doctrine, that the whole Trinty is centered in his Glorious Person will be taken away.
I. I am then, FIRST, to meet the objections arising out of the belief, that the Being who became Incarnate was a Son of God born from eternity, by showing, that the phrase," Son of God," is the proper tiile of the Humanity born in time, and that the Being who assumed it was that One Jehovah.
The idea of a Son of God born from eternity includes such a contradiction in terms, that if those who entertain it will pardon the remark, we may well wonder how it could have ever found a propounder; especially, when, on searching the Scriptures, we discover that nothing whatever countenancing such a notion is there to be found. Had there been such a being as a Son of God existing from eternity, governing the universe in conjunction with his Father, and the head and particular Ruler of the church, is it to be supposed, that the church could have been left, for four thousand years, in total ignorance of his existence? Yet such is incontrovertibly the fact. The Old Tes. tament, which contains the records of all the churches that ever appeared on this globe, from the creation till the coming of the Lord, never once speaks of a son of God as then actually existing : It speaks indeed, prophetically, of a son of God who, in the fullness of time was to be born, but never makes the slightest allusion to a Son of God then born already.
The translators of the English Bible have, indeed, once used the term in such a manner, as might lead the uninformed to imagine there was a proper son of God in the days of Daniel. For when Nebuchadnezzar had caused the three pious Jews to be cast into the furnace, he is represented as saying, “ Lo, I see four men, loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."* But it is certain that the words of the original Chaldee, in which language this part of the Scripture is written, ought to be rendered “ a son of the Gods ;” and this is now admitted by all the learned; while it certainly is much more suitable to the character of the
* Ch. iii. 23.
speaker, Nebuchadnezzar a polytheist, and a worshipper of idols. Even the Chaldee term for God, when in the plural number, will bear, like the Hebrew term, a singular meaning, still there is no ground whatever for calling the heavenly stranger whom the king saw, " the Son of God, but he ought to be termed " Sun of God;" in the same sense, according to a remark of the commentators, as the epithets, godlike, divine, &c., are applied by Homer to some of his heroes. Indeed, if the ancient Jews could have had an idea like that now entertained, of a Son of God from eternity, it still would be the height of inconsistency to make the heathen Nebuchadnezzar, who knew no more of the principles of the Jewish religion than he did of the modern Christian notions of the Trinity, speak according to such notions. Certain it is that the prophet Daniel, who writes this history, had no intention of making him do so; on the contrary, he represents him as saying, a little below,* • Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel and delivered his servants.” And, no doubt, the being sent to protect the faithful Jews was an angel, and is called a son of God, or, acce
ccording to the creed of Nebuchadnezzar, a son of the Gods, in the same sense as angels are called Sons of God in Scripture. This is in fact acknowledged in the margin of the common bible, which at ver. 25, for the illustration of the phrase, “ son of God,” refers us to Job i. 6 ; where we read, “ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.” These obviously, are the angels: and one of these sons of God, and not a proper son of God born from eternity, was doubtless the son of God seen by Nebuchadnezzar. It is greatly to be lamented, that so very important a mis-translation should remain in the English Bible to mislead the simple. Printed too, as it is, with the word “Son” commenced with a capital letter, none who are destitute of other means of information can avoid supposing that there was a proper Son of God then existing; while no shadow of ground really exists for such an imagination.
Seeing then that Moses and the prophets give us no information about a proper Son of God as existing when that part of the Divine Code was composed, we must come to the New Testament for instruction : where the term is often used, and always in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of all the places in which it here occurs, perhaps that in Luke i. 35, is best adapted to convey a full insight into its meaning. It is there applied by the angei Gabriel to the Lord Jesus Christ at
* Ver. 28.