Page images

ians, Arians, Unitarians and Trinitarians. The Socinians believe that Christ was but a mere man, though favored with the gift of inspiration. The Arians make him more than a man, and suppose him to be possessed of every divine perfection except self existence and independence. The Unitarians view him as a super-angelic Nature, intimately united with the one true God. The Trinitarians conceive him to be a proper man mysteriously united with the second person in the Godhead. But notwithstanding this variety of opinions concerning Christ, all his professed followers agree that he was possessed of perfect purity and moral rectitude. And since they agree in the belief of his undoubted veracity, they ought to agree that his own declarations concerning himself should settle their long and unhappy dispute. His enemies say, in our text, that he professed to be God as well as man. « Because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." These words very naturally lead us to consider what Christ did say concerning his humanity and divinity, and the grounds upon which he asserted both.

I. Let us consider what Christ said concerning his humanity.

He was born of a woman. He gradually increased in stature and knowledge, until he reached the years of manhood. He then appeared and conversed like other men. And when he had occasion to speak of himself, he used a peculiar phrase which clearly and forcibly expressed his humanity. He commonly called himself the Son of man. I will mention a number of instances. “ The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” “ The Son of man came eating and drinking." "Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead."

“ The Son of man goeth as it is written of him; but wo unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.” “ The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." “ Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” It is needless to transcribe all the passages in which Christ calls himself the Son of man, since he calls himself so more than sixty times in the New Testament. By this phrase he always meant to assert his humanity. And the Jews always understood it in this sense. For they charged him with blasphemy, because he professed to be a man, and yet made himself God.

If they had mistaken his meaning, he must have certainly known it, and as certainly rectified their mistake. But it does not appear that he ever intimated to any person that he had been misunderstood in calling himself the Son of man. By this phrase, therefore, he must have intended to assert his true and proper humanity.

II. Let us consider what he said concerning his divinity.

Though he professed to be man, yet he made himself God; and said more about his divine, than about his human nature. He said a great many things by which he meant, either directly or indirectly, to assert his divinity. Here it may be observed, in the first place, that he called himself the Son of God. “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through him, might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned ; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God." “ 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, it is he that talketh with thee." 66 This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." In all these passages Christ means to assert his divinity, by calling himself the Son of God. And he means to convey the same idea of himself, by calling God his Father. “ The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father.” “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” “ But now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father." I might go on quoting passages of this import; for Christ calls God his Father more than fifty times in the four Evangelists. This mode of speaking was very offensive to the Jews, who understood him as asserting his divinity. Accordingly we read, " Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he had not only broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” Again,

Christ used another phrase which carried the idea of his divinity. He used frequently to say, that he was one with the Father. “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may know that thou hast sent me.” “ And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one." By this union with his Father, the Jews understood him to assert his divine nature. Hence we are told, when he said on a certain occasion," I and my Father are one,” that “the Jews took up



stones to stone him.” Just after this he said, “ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.” It is added, “ Therefore they sought again to take him; but he escaped out of their hand.” Again,

Christ used an expression which fairly implied his eternity, and consequently his divinity; and being taken in this sense, it highly displeased the Jews. 6 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them: Before Abraham was, I am.

Then took they up stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” Again,

Our Lord professed to be a divine person, by claiming a divine authority to forgive sins. “ And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold, certain of the Scribes said within themselves, this man blasphemeth. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is it easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee? or to say, arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Again,

It belongs to a divine person to perform divine works; and such, Christ professed to perform. He said, “ My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." He said, he had power to lay down his life, and power to take it again. He said, he had power to raise the dead, or quicken whom he would. He wrought miracles in his own name, and by his own power. When he was requested to work a miracle, his usual reply was, I will, and then wrought the miracle desired. The prophets wrought miracles in the name of God, and the apostles in the name of Christ. But Christ wrought miracles in his own name, which was a public and explicit profession of his divinity.

Moreover, many persons who came to our Saviour paid him divine homage, for which he never rebuked them. “ And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, saying, I will, be thou clean." We are told, “ There came a certain ruler and worshipped him, saying, my daughter is even now dead; but come and lay thine hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose and followed him." When

Christ had walked upon the sea, saved Peter from drowning, and came into the ship, “then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him." The women, who met him alter bis resurrection, as they were returning from the sepulchre, " came and held bim by his feet, and worshipped him.” The eleven disciples conducted themselves in the same manner in Galilee, for “when they saw him, they worshipped him.” And when believing Thomas said unto him, “ My Lord and my God," Jesus approved and commended his faith and worship. In such various ways, and by such various forms of speech, our Saviour made himself God. And to give his expressions their full force, it may be proper to observe,

In the first place, that they convinced the Jews that he meant to assert his divinity. When he inquired why they went about to stone him, they replied, " For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." The Jews, who knew their own language, would never have charged Christ with blasphemy, unless he had used expressions concerning himself which properly conveyed the idea of divinity. But when they heard him say that he was the Son of God; that God was his Father; that he and his Father were one; that he did the works of his Father; that he had power to raise the dead; that he had authority to forgive sins; and that it was the will of God, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father; it was extremely natural for them to believe that he meant to make himself God as well as man. And this leads me to observe,

In the second place, that Christ never contradicted his professions of divinity, nor explained them in any sense different from that in which they were understood. Though he was blamed, and even charged with blasphemy, for making himself God; yet he never denied that he was a divine person, nor that he had professed to be so. But if he had not been a divine person, and had never intended to convey this idea of himself, then it was highly incumbent upon him to explain his meaning, and undeceive those whom he had deceived by his unusual and improper expressions. And this we presume he would have done, had he been a mere man of common honesty. Honest men have always been very careful not to claim, nor even to receive, divine honors. When Pharaoh told Joseph, “ I have heard


of thee that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it; Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me, God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” When Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel whether he could interpret his dream, Daniel replied, “ As for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living.” When Cornelius met Peter, “ and fell down at his feet and worshipped him ; Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” When the Lycaonians were about to offer sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, the apostles rectified the mistake, and rejected their impious honors. And when the apostle John was about to worship an angel, the angel rebuked him, “saying, see thou do it not: worship God.Now if Christ were not a divine person, and yet knew that he was taken to be divine by those who conversed with him, and that too in consequence of his own expressions, how could he consistently, with a proper regard to them, to himself and to his Maker, neglect to rectify their great and dangerous mistake? To have neglected this, would have proved him to be not only destitute of the virtue of the prophets and apostles, but to possess the vanity of Herod, who was struck by the hand of Heaven for receiving that honor which was due to God only. Since, therefore, Christ never contradicted his professions of divinity, nor attempted to explain them differently from what they were understood to mean, we are constrained to conclude that he was, in truth, what his expressions naturally implied and conveyed, a divine person. Especially, if we consider once more,

That he justified himself in professing to be a divine person, and persisted in that profession in the full view of death. When the Jews charged him with blasphemy for making himself God, he boldly justified his conduct. “Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.” Indeed, he was so willing to justify his pretensions to divinity, that he once proposed the question himself, on purpose to confound and silence the Pharisees upon this subject." While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is he? They say unto him, the Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool ? If David then call him Lord, how is he his Son ? And no man was able to answer him a word; neither durst any from that day forth, ask him any more questions." Nor did he barely justify his claim to divinity, but even persisted in the claim, when he knew it would cost him his life. After he was apprehended and brought before the high priest, the capital charge laid against him was his professing to be a divine person. It is true, they accused him before Pilate, of professing to be a King. But before the high priest and ecclesiastical court,


« PreviousContinue »