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that a person undertaking to say any thing by way of interpretation, should be able to say nothing more to the purpose. If an angel means a messenger, and of course, may mean a prophet, surely the expression, all the angels, must include those invisible messengers whose residence has always been in heaven.
If any one is at a loss to determine whether Jesus Christ is worthy of worship, let him attend to the testimony of St. Stephen; or let him hear what the ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands say, in regard to this matter, in the fifth chapter of the Revelations.
Since a created angel is spoken of, in more than one place in this book, as interpreting things to St. John, it is but reasonable to conclude, that it was before such an angel that the Apostle, transported by the scenes exhibited to him, and not knowing what he did, as had been the case before with him, when he was sore afraid upon the mount of transfiguration, fell down in an attitude of worship. It is acknowledged that no formal notice is given of the appearance of Jesus Christ after the angel refuses to be worshipped; and from this circumstance some have concluded Jesus Christ and the angel to be the same; but this conclusion is inadmissable, for instead of reconciling scripture with scripture, it produces a contradiction, very apparent, and goes to the destruction of the whole.
Whoever has carefully read the book of Psalms must be sensible, that the Redeemer speaks in many instances, and the inspired writers also in the same Psalm, while we are left to determine what was said by the one, and what by the other, without any thing to guide us more than we have in this case in the Revelations. Let the fortieth psalm be examined, and it will be found that though much of it is applicable to David, some of it belongs to David's Lord, and is quoted and applied to him by St. Paul in his tenth chapter to the Hebrews. There is no more reason to think that the angel who speaks in the ninth verse of the last chapter of the Revelations, speaks also in the twelfth and thirteenth verses of the same chapter, than there is to think, that he who says in the sixteenth psalm, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see
corruption, says the other things which stand in connection with this declaration. That worship therefore which if rendered to any one but God, would be idolatry, is rendered to Christ, and thus it is made evident, that it belongs to him.
Independence distinguishes God from all other beings. This attribute however, can not be claimed in stronger terms than those which are used by Jesus Christ concerning himself. He denied that any man, or any one, as it is in the original, took his life from him, and asserted his own power to lay it down, and to take it up again. When he wrought miracles he invoked no higher being; he made mention of no higher authority; but expressed his will, and that was enough, to cure diseases, and to raise the dead.
There are however persons who acknowledge, that Christ existed before the world was, and that he possessed every divine attribute, who yet deny his deity, and maintain, that he acted only by delegation. But such an opinion seems to have nothing to support it. If we admit this opinion, we must maintain, that the incarnation of Christ was not his state of humiliation, though it is so represented in the scriptures; but, that great glory was put upon him when he appeared here in the flesh. God, it may be added, declares, that he will not give his glory to another. We can think of no glory belonging to God, which is not ascribed to Christ. If this is not the glory of Christ himself, has not God given his glory to another, contrary to his own declaration, made, and repeated? If we suppose Christ to be God as well as man, our way is clear of difficulties; but upon any other supposition, the scriptures abound in language which we cannot understand. To positive declarations, to be found in the word of God we may add, that so far as we are capable of judging, it is utterly impossible for infinite attributes to be communicated, or to be possessed by two beings, strictly, and altogether distinct. Among all opinions can there be one attended with more difficulties than this, that a creature dependant for his very existence, with all that appertains to him, can be made independent, as he must be to whom no limits can be set, over whom no control can be exercised! Those who oppose the doctrine of three persons in one God offer as their reason that they believe in one God,
and, that this doctrine makes three Gods. But have those persons duly considered their own scheme, and attended to the consequences of it? If every thing essential to God is found in Christ, is he not God; and if he be distinct in nature, is he not another God; and if so, must there not be two Gods? The absurdity of the opinion which admits tivo Gods, is equally great with one which would actually admit three. That there is but one God we all maintain. The mode of his existence is the thing in dispute. There would be a palpable contradiction in supposing God to be three in the same sense that he is one; and one in the same sense that he is three. But it would be very arrogant in us, who are ignorant of most things which occur daily, and to whom the little words why, and wherefore, convey so much that is puzzling, and perplexing, to decide, that there can be no way in which God can be both one and three. If it is a matter of revelation we are bound to receive it as we find it represented, and if there is an inward witness which determines the minds of the people of God, we ought to consider, that other testimony, however various, and strong, will leave us in a state of indecision, unless we have this witness; and of course, we should seek to be qualified to judge, before we undertake to form a judgment.
In making up an opinion of Christ we are led to attend to the
purpose which he had in view in coming into the world. Some persons have thought, that nothing else was aimed at by the coming of Christ but to set the things of duty, and of a future state more clearly before mankind; and to add to his doctrines, and precepts the weight of his own perfect example. Upon this supposition all which we need is information, the disposition being invariably to follow the path of rectitude when it is marked out for us. But though we ought never to lose sight of the instructions, and the example, of Christ, we pass over the principal thing, if we do not attend to his death. There are those who profess to believe in the atonement, to whom the death of Christ seems to be no substitution for the punishment of the sinner; at least for his final rejection, because in the view of such persons, some portion of virtue is still attached to human nature. Yet surveying man as he appears, and acts himself out in this world, can we deny that he is a transgressor from the womb, in opposition to his fellow men, and opposed to his own best interest; sunk in sin; and hastening to sink in misery? The law which we have broken has death for its penalty. How shall the transgressors live, if the justice of God be made manifest, unless some one appear for him as a substitute, able to sustain that curse, which coming on the transgressor would be to him, complete perdition? Looking to the highest order of creatures, can we find one in whom we could have confidence; one concerning whom we could say, I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day,
The ceremonial law is wholly without meaning, and useless, except as it refers to the guilty, and polluted state of man; and to the atoning sacrifice, and cleansing blood of a Savior. Let the grand object, the death of Christ be out of sight, and you can give no reason for the many costly offerings, required of the Jews; nor for their many ablutions. Very minutely circumstantial was the worship of the Jewish church; and the gospel history explains the typical ceremonies. The prophecies respecting Christ, point directly to his death, and assign the ruined state of the moral world as the reason for it. When John Baptist called the attention of his disciples to Christ, he said, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Christ repeatedly made mention of his own death, that he might correct the mistakes generally entertained about him, and lead those who were looking for dignities in an earthly kingdom, to aspire after that crown of righteousness which he was to purchase with his blood. Among his declarations to this point we find him saying, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Lest the meaning of Christ should be misapprehended the sacred historian was directed to add, this he said signifying what death he should die. The New Testament throughout, and the Old likewise, abounds in the sentiment, that Christ died for the salvation of his people, and, that his death is the only foundation of hope and happiness.
To omit many things which might be said upon the question in our text, let the concluding remark be at this time, that Christ is precious to every true believer, and, that, that love to him which is implanted in the renewed heart is much stronger than even maternal affection. Of this there can be no doubt, for his disciples are required to love him with such an affection that in a comparative view, they may be said to hate their nearest relatives and friends. That love of Christ which has not a constraining influence, is love only in name; those cords which do not bind the soul to him who gave it being at first; and who as the quickening spirit, gives new life to dead sinners are not the cords which in Christ's house connect the members with the head. A christian's feelings upon the subject, are well expressed in the language of a christian poet:
I'll carve his name upon the bark;
And every wounded tree,
That Jesus bled for nie.