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Every eye shall now behold him,
From this subject we infer, in the first place, the power, dignity, and glory of Christ.
Our principal object in the foregoing remarks has been to present the Scripture view of the exaltation of the human nature of our blessed Lord in its proper light. We need not say how deeply interesting to us it must be that our elder brother, who is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; who took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, is so exalted in the scale of being. This was done, as we have seen, first, by his union with the Godhead; and, secondly, as a reward of his sufferings and death in our behalf. As man, in union with the divinity, he is "heir of all things," and has a "name that is above every name." His dominion extends over time and eternity. He is Lord both of the dead and living. This never could have been the case, however, with mere human nature unconnected with divinity and the vast objects of the incarnation.
It was the "fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily" in him which Faid the foundation of this exaltation of the Son of God; and then, for "despising the shame and enduring the cross," he was "crowned with glory and honor," and obtained the "joy that was set before him”the joy of "sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God”— "angels, and principalities, and powers being made subject unto him.” If, then, such is the dignity and glory of the human nature of Christ, what must be the glory of the divinity which dwelt in him? How false, how base the doctrine which denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, and reduces him to a mere creature; and thus rears the hopes of a perishing world upon the sand! But admitting that divinity, and the union of the human with the divine nature in the person of Christ, and his death to have been sacrificial and vicarious, and the foundation is broad and permanent on which to secure the glory of every divine attribute of Jehovah, and rear the hopes of a lost and ruined world.
This is a Mediator worthy of God, and every way suitable to the condition of fallen man. By his divinity he is one with the eternal Father, and by his humanity he is one with our fallen race; thus filling the vast distance, created by sin, between the Father and his rebellious subjects, and establishing a medium of access and intercourse between heaven and earth. The establishment of such a mediation between God and man is both honorary to him and infinitely beneficial to man.
Doubtless the angels, who "desire to look into these things," were so far gratified as to have had a clear view of the relations which our Saviour bore to the Father and to us, and of the bearing the atonement would have both upon the divine government and the interests of the human family. For when they announced his advent to the world, they embodied these very sentiments in that angelic song which wrapt heaven and earth in one common interest: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men !"
But the most exalted descriptions of the dignity and glory of Christ
are those which are found in the word of God. St. Peter speaks of having seen his glory when with him in the holy mount. And the occount of the evangelist is, that "as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." But John, who was present at the transfiguration, had, subsequently, a still more glorious view of our exalted Redeemer: "In the midst of the golden candlesticks, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Christian, behold your Saviour! Sinner, behold your Judge! Here is the very person who was born in a stable, and was cradled in a manger; who led a suffering life, and died the death of the cross, and lay folded in the strong and cold arms of death! Behold him "alive for evermore!" Yes,
Secondly; we infer from this subject the utter impossibility of either escaping or throwing off moral responsibility.
In the day of worldly prosperity, engrossed in the cares and plea. sures of life, sinners are prone to forget or disregard their accountability to God, and throw off all concern respecting a future state. In more advanced life, conscious of years of accumulated guilt, they often take refuge under the flimsy garb of infidelity, become obstinate in their opposition to God, and stoutly deny that there will be any resurrection of the dead or general judgment. Such are the deceptions which the perverted mind of man is capable of practising upon itself. All these self-deceptions, however, alter not the fact nor character of their moral responsibility before God. Still Jesus is the "King in Zion," "ruling in the midst of his enemies." He is still Lord both of the dead and living.
Ah! sinner, whither wouldst thou go to escape from the presence of God? If you ascend up into heaven, he is there; and if you make your bed in hell, behold he is there! and if you take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall his right hand hold you. He has seen fit to create us moral and accountable beings, to place us under moral responsibility to himself, and to hold us to a faithful account for all the deeds done in the body. Why he has seen proper to do so is not for us to inquire. He has infinite reasons for the course he has adopted, and the light of eternity will fully justify his ways toward mankind. But it is our duty, as it
is our wisdom, to prepare to render up our account with joy, and not with grief.
Let all present, then, from the highest to the lowest, see that their peace is made with God. "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings, be instructed, ye judges of the earth; kiss the Son, lest he be angry with you, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little."
Thirdly; this subject affords strong grounds of humble confidence to the believer.
The fact that Christ is Lord both of the dead and living; that he is heir of all things, and upholds all things by the word of his power; that all the resources of nature and providence are at his command; and that he is the Saviour and rewarder of his people, furnish the strongest grounds of confidence to those whose hopes rest wholly upon him in life and death. With this confidence firmly fixed in the soul, and resting upon Christ as its foundation, the believer may pass through the storms of life with safety and happiness. Whatever revolutions may agitate the physical or political world, he is sure that Jesus reigns, and, therefore, that all shall be well. And although doomed to pass through the dark valley and shadow of death, he will fear no evil, for Christ is with him. And although he looks forward with certainty to the time when the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved; when the dust of the ruler and the beggar shall be equally elevated, yet being assured of the fact, that Christ is Lord of the dead as well as of the living; that his dominion extends through all the regions of the dead, and that he has left on earth the promise, and in heaven the pledge of our resurrection, death is disarmed of his terror, and met without dismay. The language of his heart is, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." He enters eternity with the fullest confidence that he shall there find his Lord and Master ready to receive and welcome him to the felicities of paradise for ever. Hear his own comforting promise, "Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Look up, suffering, tempted follower of the Lamb, the day of your redemption draweth nigh, and now is your salvation nearer than when you first believed. Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
This discourse was delivered in the presence of the president of the United States, August 11, 1839.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
THE INTELLIGENCE OF ANGELS.
THE faculty of reason, which enables us to discriminate between good and evil, truth and falsehood, and to deduce inferences from facts and propositions, distinguishes man from the brute creation. Beasts of the field, indeed, or the inferior orders of animated nature, may also possess a feeble ray of intellectual light; for we cannot attribute all the evidences of rationality manifested by them to mere instinct; and some of these obviously enjoy this gift in a higher degree than others; for the cunning elephant, for instance, whose singular sagacity sometimes surpasses the ingenuity of his keeper, has received it in a larger measure than the lonely bat that may be silently fluttering over his unwieldy carcass, or the laboring ox, of "honest front," that "treadeth out the corn," and who only "knoweth his owner;" but it is in man alone, of all creatures on earth, that this principle is worthy of being denominated the understanding.
As man, then, in this respect, is raised above the mediocrity of irra. tional animals, so the angels of heaven are greatly superior to him in the strength of their intellectual powers, in the means of acquiring information, and in the extent of their knowledge. And though we cannot accurately measure the capacity of their mental faculties; nor ascertain the medium of communication between themselves, and be tween their own minds and material objects; nor fully survey the limits of their acquirements; yet, as they are commissioned by their Maker to be his messengers to the most distant provinces of his dominions; as they are employed by him on the most important embassies of goodness and justice in all parts of the universe; as by his authority they retard or accelerate the mysterious wheels of his providence ; and as they are not encumbered with gross bodies of flesh and blood, such as we have, to impede their progress in the pathway of improvement, we may suppose, without the least absurdity, that the native energy of their minds, and the almost inconceivable amount of knowledge which has been accumulated by them since their creation, as far surpass the powers of the human mind, and the acquisition of the most diligent student in the world, as the towering mountain exceeds in bulk a grain of sand, or the meridian sun in brightness the glimmering rays of the midnight lamp.
Even in this life, a man, by patient perseverance and close application, may learn much; and yet, in reality, know but little. There are mysteries connected with the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and with the moral and intellectual worlds, lying so deep in the ocean of truth, that they cannot be fathomed by the longest line of investigation; and they are so shrouded in darkness that the gloom cannot be pierced by the most penetrating mind. These mysteries may be as easily understood by angels, however inexplicable they may appear to us, as the letters of an alphabet are by a profound scholar.
Some men, it is true, with the most indefatigable labor, have
ascended the hill of science, placed their names 'securely in the highest point of the temple of fame, and have stood sublimely on the most exalted pinnacle of learned greatness: they have counted the stars, and named them, and discovered their relative distances and magnitudes, and the laws by which they are governed: they have descended into the earth, and have searched for information as for hidden treasures, and have brought up and added to the cabinet of the literature of ages diamonds of the first water! To all appearance they needed no other microscope to examine with the utmost scrutiny the smallest atom that might float before them, than the powerful senses of their own vigorous intellects; and no other telescope to view the most distant object within the limits of human research, than the keen glances of their own organs of mental vision. But what is all this power, or this knowledge, when compared with that of the "angels, who excel in strength, who do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word?"
And we cannot conjecture, with any plausibility, that this work of acquiring useful information, among the angelic orders, will ever become stationary; not even in the most remote ages of their future existence. There are no bounds to human improvability in this world; and it is not probable that there will be any in the life to come. A person may begin with the earliest dawn of reason, and diligently apply himself to the acquisition of knowledge until he shall be brought, like Jacob of old, to worship leaning on the top of his staff; yet he still may learn and grow wiser; and continue to improve his mind thus, while his outward man is perishing, to the very close of his earthly existence. Did the antediluvians, who lived a thousand years, and who were young men at a hundred, cease, at the age of seventy, to acquire new ideas, and larger measures of learning, or to become better acquainted with the wonderful works of creation and providence? To suppose that they did, would not only be derogatory of the human understanding, but contrary to observation, and to our personal con. sciousness of advancement in the path of literature and science.
That the same progressive improvement will continue in a future state is certainly very reasonable, and it agrees also with the testimony of the Bible. A similar sentiment may likewise be affirmed of the angels of heaven. And though it is probable that the duration of their existence will not be measured by the diurnal nor annual revolution of a single world, yet, while the stupendous orb of eternity shall roll on in awful majesty its unnumbered ages, their ever expanding minds will perpetually receive larger and clearer views of the character of God, the nature of his essence, the mode of his being, the perfection of his attributes, the plan of redemption, the government of creation, and of the distant worlds which revolve with so much regularity and grandeur in the very borders of their Maker's empire.
One principal object in writing this treatise is the elucidation of Scripture. Those passages of the Old and New Testament, therefore, which have any reference to the subject under consideration, will now be examined.
That the ancient Jews believed the angels to be in possession of very extensive knowledge is evident from the words of the widow of Tekoa to David the king of Israel, in 2 Sam. xiv, 17, 20: “As an angel