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Of two blind men, one may know many things more than the other ; but with regard to the knowledge of light and colours, they will be both ignorant alike.
Some of you perhaps think yourselves wiser than many of your neighbours. But I cannot too often remind you, that if you know not Christ, all your wisdom is folly, and you will find it so at last.
Secondly, Neither do his own people know him in the sense of my text. Some knowledge of him indeed they have, which is their differencing character from the world. But how small a portion! That they know hiin a little, is plain, because they love him and trust him; but how little, is plain likewise, because their love is so faint, and their trust so feeble. Their doubts, fears, complaints, and backslidings, are so many mournful proofs that they are but poorly acquainted with him; and sufficiently evidence, that a great part of what we account our knowledge, is not real and experimental, but notional only. The literal sense of what we read concerning Jesus, is attainable by study and human teaching; but the spiritual import can be received only from Him who teaches to the heart, who increases it in us by the various exercises and dispensations we pass through ; and the best have much more to learn than they have already attained. There are, indeed, happy moments when he manifests himself to the eye of faith, in his glory, and in his love; as he did to Peter in the mount, and to Thomas, when a sight of his wounds conquered his unbelief, and made him in a transport of joy cry out, “ My Lord, and my God.” But these visits, though they have a powerful influence to conquer sin and fear, are transient; and when the cause is withdrawn, there is a proportionable abatement in the effect.
The knowledge of Christ, in the present life, may be compared to the knowledge which a shepherd has of the sea, from having viewed it from the top of a cliff. In a sense it may be said, he has seen the sea; but how little has he seen, in comparison of what lies beyond the reach of his eye! How inadequate is such a prospect to give him an idea answerable to the length, and breadth, and depth, of the immense ocean! Nay, further,
Thirdly, The glorified saints, and holy angels, who behold as much of his glory as creatures can bear, do not know him as he is. They are filled with his power and love. He comprehends them, but they cannot him. A vessel cast into the sea, can but receive according to its capacity. Thus are they filled with his fulness till they can hold no more; but his glory still remains infinite and boundless. The glorious seraphim, therefore, are represented as hiding their faces with their wings, unable to bear the splendour of his presence. For,
Fourthly, “None knows the Son but the Father." This proves his divinity. God only knows himself, The Son is his eternal Word, his eternal Wisdom, and therefore beyond the highest reach of finite understanding
2. “None knows the Father but the Son.” Here I might repeat the former particulars. God has made something known of himself in his works, much in his word, more still in his grace. All men have some faint perceptions of his power and presence. He manifests himself to his own family below, still more to his family above; yet, after all, he is said to dwell in light which no man can approach. None knows him but the Son, and he knows him perfectly, knows the incomprehensible
God; therefore he is God himself. As he said to Philip,“ He that hath seen me, hath seen the Fa" ther*.”
Now, if we had no other proof of this doctrine but the
passage before us, since this is the declaration of the true and faithful Witness, it should be accepted as decisive. But as this is the great mystery of godliness, the pillar and ground of truth, the foundation of all our hopes, I shall take this opportunity to confirm it more largely from other concurrent testimonies of Scripture.
By the Son, I mean the person who spoke these words: he who was foretold by the prophets; who in the fulness of time came into the world; who with respect to his divine nature, is called “the Word t,” and with respect to his human nature was born of the Virgin Mary: he who was known upon earth by the name of Jesus; whose history is related by the evangelists; who suffered a shameful and accursed death upon the cross without the gates of Jerusalem. Of him we affirm,“ That he
was, and is, the true God, and eternal life [. In proof of this, besides what has been already said, let the following particulars be considered.
First, That the proper and peculiar titles of God are attributed to him frequently in the Scriptures ; so frequently, that it would be a very long task to transcribe them all. Let a few, the application of which to Christ is express and indisputable, suffice for a specimen : “ The “ Word was God :" “ His name shall be called Emma“nuel, God with us :” “ Jehovah our Righteousness :" “ The Mighty God.” In the same style he speaks
* John xiv. 9.
† John i. 1.
1 John v. 20.
of himself by his servants the prophets and apostles: Thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is "his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; "the God of the whole earth shall he be called." "Look "unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for "I am God, and there is none else." "I am Alpha and Oinega, the beginning and the end, the first and the "last, the Almighty*."
Amidst the variety of testimonies which might be adduced to this purpose, there are two which are peculiarly observable. The Psalmist expresses the majesty, power, and immutability of God, in these sublime terms: "Of old thou hast laid the foundations of the earth, and "the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall "perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall "wax old like a garment; as a vesture thou shalt change "them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the
same, and thy years shall have no end." Surely none can deny, but this ascription must be incommunicably due to the Almighty; yet the author of the epistle to the Hebrews applies these words directly to the Son of God. The other passage I intend is the vision of Isaiah, recorded in his sixth chapter; which not only proves the point in hand, but irrefragably establishes the doctrine of the Trinity. For the Lord of hosts, whom Isaiah saw and heard, is affirmed by St. John to have been the Son§, by St. Paul to have been the Holy Ghost. Isaiah, therefore, had a manifestation of what was afterwards in explicit words set forth to the faith of
* John i. 1.; Matth. i. 23.; Jer. xxiii. 6.; Isa. ix. 6.; Isa. liv. 5.; Isa. xlv. 22.; Rev. i. 8. 11.
† Psalm cii. 25-27.
‡ Heb. i. 10-12.
the church, that “there are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; " and these three are one *.”
Secondly, His works upon earth were such as necessarily suppose a divine power. Who can control the elements, raise the dead, command the devils, search the heart, and forgive sin, but God alone t? If it should be said, that many of his servants and followers wrought miracles equal to his, by a delegated power, and therefore this argument is not conclusive; I answer, There is an apparent difference in the manner of their working, which proves the disparity between them and him. They could do nothing but in his name, and by his power; they usually addressed themselves to him by prayer, and always ascribed the praise and glory to him. But his power was independent, sovereign, and unlimited : “ He spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it “ stood fast.” At the breath of his rebuke, the raging tempest and the boisterous seas were instantly hushed into a perfect calm. The deaf heard bis voice, and the dead came forth from their graves, at his first call.
Thirdly, His works of office can be performed by none but God. This might be proved concerning each of the offices he exercises in consequence of his high character as Mediator between God and man; but I shall speak only of two.
(1.) It is his office to keep his believing people in this present evil world, to act , the partof a shepherd towards them, to supply their wants of every kind, to direct
* 1 John v. 7. † Mark iv. 39.; John xi. 43.; Luke iv. 36.; Mark ii. 10. # Acts iii. 12-16.
S Matth. ii. 6. Tos pares.