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Such is the dignity of our blessed Lord: He is Jehovah, one with the Father, in glory equal, in majesty co-eternal: nor is there one ransomed soul in heaven, who does not ascribe his salvation to the blood and righteousness of this our incarnate God-]
While the prophet thus expatiates on the glory of Christ, he intimates also
II. The duty of man
Our duty as sinners, and as redeemed sinners, has especial respect to Christ: and it is summarily comprehended in the ascribing to Christ the honour due unto his name-But this must be done
1. In faith
[To compliment Christ with any titles which we do not believe due to him, would be to insult him, like those who arrayed him in mock majesty, and cried, Hail, King of the Jews -We must fully believe him to be God: we must be persuaded that we neither have nor can have any righteousness of our own: and we must be assured that "He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth"-If we entertain any idea of meriting any thing at God's hands by our own obedience, or of adding any thing of our own to his perfect righteousness, we dishonour and degrade him; and, instead of performing our duty towards him, we violate it in the most flagrant manner: and, though we may be actuated by a blind zeal for the Father's honour, or for the interest of morality, we are indeed rebels against God, since he has commanded that "all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father," and that they should call him in faith, The Lord our Righteousness-]
2. In sincerity
[As, to give him a title which we do not believe due to him would be mockery, so, to give it without a correspondent regard to him would be hypocrisy-Do we believe him to be Jehovah? we must regard him with reverential awe, and yield ourselves up to him in unreserved obedience-Do we believe him to be the only Righteousness of the redeemed? we must renounce entirely our own righteousness, and depend on him with our whole hearts-Do we view him in his complex character as Jehovah our Righteousness? We must rejoice in having such an almighty friend, such a sure foundation-We must glory in him as "all our salvation, and all our desire"A less regard to him than this, not only falls below our duty,
c Rom. x. 4.
but it is absolutely inconsistent with any scriptural hope, any prospect of salvation-1
From this subject we may LEARN
1. The way of salvation
[There are but three ways in which we can conceive it possible for any man to be saved; namely, by works, by faith and works, or by faith without works; and the subject before us plainly declares which is the true one-Are we to be saved by our works? No: for God would never have sent his Son to be our Righteousness, if we ever could have wrought out a sufficient righteousness of our own-Besides, our own works would then have been our righteousness, and the name here ascribed to Christ would not have belonged to him-Moreover, even in heaven itself, instead of ascribing "Salvation to God and to the Lamb," we must ascribe it to God and to ourselves
Are we then to be saved by faith and works? We still answer, No: for in whatever degree w trust in our own works, in that degree do we rob Christ of his official dignity; and assume to ourselves the honour due to him alone-As far as our own merits are united with his as a joint ground of our acceptance with God, so far shall we have to all eternity a ground of glorying in ourselves; yea, so far salvation will cease to be of grace; whereas "it is of faith that it may be by grace, and that boasting may be for ever excluded"d
Salvation must then be by faith without works; we must not endeavour either in whole or in part to “establish a righteousness of our own," but seek to be clothed in the unspotted robe of Christ's righteousness-This is the declaration of God himself; nor did the apostles themselves know any other way of salvation-We must all therefore desire, with St. Paul, to be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness but his]
2. The excellency of that way
[What can be conceived more comfortable to man than to hear of such a salvation as this? Were we told that we must work out a righteousness of our own that should be commensurate with the demands of God's law, who could entertain a hope of ever affecting it?-If we were required to do something that should be worthy to be joined with the Saviour's merits in order to render them more effectual for our acceptance, where should we find one single work of ours that we could present to God as perfect, and as deserving of so great a re
d Rom. iv. 16. Eph. ii. 8, 9.
e Rom. iv. 5.
g Phil. iii. 9.
ward? The best man on earth must either sit down in despair, or live in continual suspense respecting his eternal welfareBut the righteousness of Jehovah appears at once, not only adequate to our wants, but to the wants of all mankind; and, by trusting in that, we find rest unto our souls-Nor can we devise any other method of acceptance so honourable to God; since it refers all the glory to him; and necessitates all the hosts of the redeemed to ascribe the honour of their salvation to him alone-In spite of all the objections too that are urged against it, we can affirm that it is eminently conducive to the practice of holiness-Can we think of God becoming man in order to work out a righteousness for us, and not feel a desire to serve and honour him? "Can we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid"-An inspired writer assures us that "the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world"
Let us then seek our righteousness in Christ alone; but let us shew by our lives, that this doctrine of faith is indeed "a doctrine according to godliness"-]
CLXXIII. CHRIST'S INCARNATION A CALL TO WORSHIP GIM.
Heb. i. 6. When he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
IF God had been pleased to try our faith, he might have required us to believe whatsoever he should reveal, even though he should mention it but once: but, in condescension to our weakness, he has given us a great variety of testimonies to confirm every fundamental doctrine of our holy religion-The doctrine of the divinity of Christ is as important as any in the whole Bible: and it stands, not on one or two doubtful passages of scripture, but on the plainest, and almost numberless declarations of the inspired writers-In the passage before us the apostle is shewing the infinite superiority of Jesus above the highest orders of created beings; and he adduces a whole series, as it were, of testimonies in proof of this pointThe one which we have now read is taken from the 97th Psalm, and confessedly relates to Jesus-In discoursing upon it we are led to observe
a It speaks of Christ's kingdom, ver. 1. and the duty of angels, here called gods, to worship him, ver. 7.
I. That Christ is a proper object of divine worship The command contained in the text is itself decisive upon the point
[God is a jealous God, and claims divine worship as his unalienable prerogative; yet he at the same time requires it to be given to his Son-Would he do this, if his Son were not worthy of that high honour? Would he, contrary to his express declaration, give his glory to another? We are assured he would not; and therefore his Son must be a proper object of our supreme regard-]
The practice of the Christian church confirms it beyond a doubt
[Stephen, when he was full of the Holy Ghost, and his face shone like that of an angel, at the very instant that he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, addressed himself, not to the Father, but to Jesus; and that too in terms precisely similar to those in which Jesus in his dying hour had addressed the Fatherd-Can we wish for any plainer example?-The apostle Paul, under the buffetings of Satan, applied to Jesus for relief, and was expressly answered, as he himself tells us, by Jesus; in consequence of which answer he from that time " gloried in his infirmities that the power of CHRIST might rest upon him"-The whole church of God, not only at Corinth, but "in all other places" are described and characterized by this very thing, the worshipping of Christ-But the church triumphant no less than the church militant are incessantly presenting before him their humble and grateful adorationss
Surely if worship be not to be paid to Christ, the scriptures are not calculated to instruct, but to deceive and ensnare us-]
Nor must it be forgotten that to worship Christ is the highest act of obedience to the Father
[It is the Father who enjoins it in the text; and that, not to men only, but to angels also" He has committed all judgment to his Son for this very purpose, that all men may honour the Son even as they honour the Father”—He even swears that all, at the peril of their souls, shall bow to Jesus;i and, so far from thinking himself dishonoured by it, he expressly requires it, in order that he himself may be more abundantly glorified?
The text leads us further to observe respecting Christ
b Matt. iv. 10.
c Isai. xlii. 8.
59, 60. with Luke xxiii. 34, 46.
i Rom. xiv. 10, 11.
a Compare Acts vii.
8 Rev. vii. 9, 10. Phil. ii. 10, 11.
II. That his incarnation affords a special call to all both in heaven and earth to worship him
"The bringing in of the first-begotten into the world" may comprehend the whole period of his reign under the gospel dispensation; in which case the command to worship him is general: but if we confine the expression to the time of his incarnation, the command to worship him will be a special call, arising from the circumstance of his incarnation, and founded on it-To elucidate it in this latter view we may observe that
1. It affords the brightest discovery of the divine perfections
[The angels had doubtless seen much of the divine glory before: they had seen God's wisdom, power, and goodness in the creation and government of the world. But they never before had such a view of his condescension and grace as when they beheld him lying in the manger, an helpless babe Now also the design of God to glorify all his perfections in the work of redemption was more clearly unfoldedHence the whole multitude of the heavenly choir began to sing, "Glory to God in the highest"-And if their hosannas increased with their discoveries of the divine glory, should not ours also?-Have not we also abundant reason to magnify our incarnate God; and to exalt our thoughts of him in proportion as he has debased himself for our sakes?—]
2. It opens a way for our reconciliation with God
[Men were indeed accepted of God before Christ's advent in the flesh; but it was through him who was to come, as we are accepted through him who has come-But when Christ was manifested in the flesh, his mediatorial work commenced; and that course of sufferings and obedience, which is the meritorious ground of our acceptance, was begun-It may be said, that, though we are bound on this account to adore him, the angels feel no interest in it: but can we suppose that those benevolent spirits, who minister to the heirs of salvation, and bear them on their wings to the realms of glory, feel no delight in our happiness? Doubtless they do; and are themselves made happier by their sympathy with us-If they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, they also have reason to adore the Saviour for opening both to us and them such an inexhaustible fountain of blessedness and joy-]
3. It reunites men and angels under one head
[Christ was the Creator and sovereign Lord both of men and angels' But man, by casting off his allegiance to his Lord,