« PreviousContinue »
give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” If this discourse should, by the blessing of God, serve to convince the gentleman who desired it, or any of similar sentiments, the advantage will be their own; and the glo
will be wholly due to Him, who is mighty to save.
But to enter on the subject, I would premise that it does not appear to have been the apostle's main design, when preaching to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, to discuss directly, all the views which he entertained of Christ's Person. They had put him to death as a criminal; openly denying his having any commission from on high. It was their uniform plea, that he imposed on mankind, in asserting that he was sent of God. They expected, indeed, the coming of the Messiah, predicted by their prophets; but they refused to acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth, as the one, sustaining that exalted character. This seems to have been the only point, which the inspired preacher was endeavoring to establish in their minds, at that time. It would have been useless to enter with them into the Messiah's Deity, while they rejected the claim of the crucified Jesus, altogether, to be the Messiah. With respect to the character of the real Messiah, it is not probable, that they were prepared to dispute with him, who was then addressing them. His proper Deity appears to be well authenticated in their Scriptures; and, no doubt, the Jews fully understood them, in that respect.
They seemed to be in the dark, however, in regard to the main design of the Messiah's mission ; viz: that he was to suffer, die, rise from the grave, and ascend to hea
To convince them, respecting these things, St. Peter refers to a prophecy, delivered by David, the most illustrious king who ever sat on the throne of Israel ; and who was one of the brightest types of their Messiah. The prophecy, in view, is contained in the 16th Psalm, and the
It runs thus-“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,” or the grave; “neither wilt thou suffer thine Hos ly One to see corruption.” In explication of this, the Apostle observes, “ Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the Patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that, of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne : he seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens ; viz, in his body: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” Our text follows; “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” This solemn declaration, founded on such evidence as their own prophecies, with the remarkable effusion of the Spirit on the apostles, sounded in their ears like a peal of thunder, and led them to cry, “Men and brethren, what shall we do ?”
But in the further discussion of the text, it is incumbent on me, to meet the supposed difficulty which it contains. It is undoubtedly this; that whatever rank Christ holds in the universe, he was raised to it by the Father, who, in the passage under consideration, is called God. God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both “ Lord” and Christ. It will be said, that this conveys na other idea, than that of inferiority, subordination and de:
pendence. But that, we are ready to grant, with the utmost cheerfulness; having no fear of the result.
In our text, and its connection, the Apostle is evidently speaking of the Son of God in his mediatorial capacity; and in that respect, he certainly acts in subordination to the Father. in respect to his human nature, his dependence on God must be admitted. The text does not include all that we believe concerning Jesus Christ ; but it is very far from standing in opposition to any of our views in respect to his person and character. But to set this in a clear light, it is necessary to make a concise statement of our views of this grand, but mysterious subject.
Need I inform this enlightened assembly, that correct Trinitarians believe in the being of no more than one God, who is infinite in every perfection, and to whose glorious name all religious worship is due? We consider the charge of being Tritheists, or believers in three Gods, as highly disingenuous, and inapplicable to our sentiments. It is acknowledged by an able and candid writer, in his * Plea for Unitarian Dissenters,” that the name, “ Unitarian, is opposed to Trinitarian, or Tri-uni-tarian ; and signifies a believer in, and worshipper of one God in one person, as contradistinguished from a believer in and worshipper of one God in three persons.” By these definitions, he completely exonerates us from the unjust accusation of being Tritheists. We do believe, that in the Divine Essence, there are three distinct subsistences, which, for the want of a better expression, are called . personal distinction is viewed by us as being consistent with the unity of the essence; believing this mode of the Divine Existence to be the most perfect, happy, and glorious; Jaying a broad foundation for the most bright display of God's glory, in the eternal salvation of mankind. These distinct Divine Persons, we believe to sustain different
offices in relation to the scheme of redemption, which are not on the same ground of equality with the original perfections of their eternal and underived essence. As it is the office of the Father, or first person in the Trinity, to maintain the rights of the Deity or Godhead, it is, therefore, primary and supreme. As the Son, or second person, has made the atonement by shedding his precious blood, and intercedes with the Father in behalf of his people; and as the Holy Spirit, or third person, applies the redemption of Christ to the souls of men; their offices are, of course, inferior and subordinate to that of the Father. This is an accurate statement of the Trinitarian system; and when it is fairly understood, it relieves many difficulties, in which our Anti-Trinitarian friends believe us to be involved. As the Son of God has taken human nature into a personal union with the divine; performing, in that capacity, the momentous work of a Mediator; he is, undoubtedly, in that respect, wholly dependent on God. From the general statement that has been made concerning the Persons in the adorable Trinity—the order of their distinct offices--the humanity as well as divinity of Christ—with his exercising a mediatorial government under the direction of the Father ; it must be obvious to every dispassionate hearer, that the text under consideration is not in opposition to this important and Scriptural scheme. These facts in respect to Christ, do not militate in the least degree against his strict and proper Deity; and they are to us consoling truths—truths, without which, we should have no right to expect eternal salvation. There is an important sense, therefore, in which he is subordinate to the Father; and a sense, in which he hath made him both Lord and Christ.
In farther investigating this sublime subject, it is proposed, through Divine assistance, to show,
1. What the Holy Scriptures teach us, in relation to the inferiority of the Son's office to that of the Father. Subordination, in this respect, is a doctrine clearly set forth in the Oracles of Truth, in various and expressive phraseology. “As it is the office of the Father to defend the rights of the Deity, and to treat this fallen world as in a justly condemned state, he hath commissioned the second Person of the Trinity, to offer them salvation through faith in his atoning blood. On this account, he is called the servant of God—his messenger—his angel, and the Captain of his host, with other appellations, indicating, with great clearness, inferiority of office.
In respect to the Son being a servant to the Father in the glorious economy of redemption, see Isaiah 42. 1: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” In the 53d chapter, 11th verse, it is expressly said, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” But his acting in this capacity, might easily be evinced from many other sacred passages, if the thing were necessary. That he is the Father's messenger, is a truth explicitly declared in Mal. 3.1: “And the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in. Behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” As angels are the ministers of Jehovah, his own eternal Son, in the plan of redeeming grace, is frequently called by that name; but it is always accompanied with decided marks of supreme Divinity. In Isa. 63. 9, it is said of God, in relation to the children of Israel, “ In all their afflictions, he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them.” There is no other Spirit in the world above, called the Angel of God's presence. It is too high