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it in his holy word. This, however, is no subject on which to speculate; nor should we, in such a case, attempt to be "wise above that which is written." But if we are truly humble and honest in consulting that which is written, and as truly earnest in seeking the guidance of the spirit of truth in our inquiries, it is to be hoped we shall be preserved from dangerous error; and my humble conviction is, that, in such circumstances, an involuntary mistake on either side of such a subject as this will endanger no man's salvation.
The very fact, that the wisest and best of men have entertained different views of this subject, after the most sincere and careful examination of the Scriptures, will satisfy a candid mind that this is not a fit subject on which to dogmatize. And although we should not for a moment suppose that God will suffer any sincere and humble inquirer to fall into error, in those great doctrines which are essential to salvation, yet we have no right to expect a similar security in reference to those points that may not be of such vital importance.
It is recorded, that Jesus, on one occasion, asked his disciples, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ."
Various opinions touching the nature and dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ have, more or less, obtained among his followers from that day to the present; and may be expected to continue, so long as we remain in this state of imperfection. The minds of men, for some time påst, have been, and are just now, more than usually occupied upon this high and interesting subject: and though it be avowedly encompassed with considerable difficulty, in any view of it, there is scarce any subject on which mankind are more apt to form rash and hasty conclusions, or more ready to misrepresent and vilify those who differ from them. I am aware that there is much of this bad disposition manifested around us of late; and the obvious necessity of preventing any misconception with respect to myself, and any evils that might result therefrom, has induced me (somewhat reluctantly, I confess,) to take up this very solemn subject; and to lay before you, as distinctly as I can, whatever definite views thereof I have been enabled to form from the word of God. I cannot but feel the subject towards which I am thus drawn, to be a high and an awful one. I trust my God will enable me to approach it with becoming reverence, and with
hold me from offering you any other views of it than those which are exhibited in the Holy Scriptures. I can offer no claim to infallibility. I am not beyond the reach of error. But I can have no conceivable motive for wilfully misleading you, or myself, on such a subject. On the contrary, I am presented with the weightiest of all motives for believing and teaching the simple truth as it is in Jesus.
I cannot be so presumptuous as to expect that the sentiments which I shall honestly disclose should have any weight with you, merely because they are mine. Put me, therefore, altogether out of the question: for of what value are the opinions of any man, or of all mankind together, on such a topic? To the law and to the testimony, therefore,-to the sacred revelation of God, we refer you at once; and we say, if we speak not according thereto, it must be because the light of truth is not in us. Laying aside, as we ought, all merely human authority, as of no value whatever in determining this question, let us turn, with all reverence and humility of heart, to that holy book which speaketh to us with the voice and authority of God; earnestly beseeching him that, for Christ's sake, he may be pleased to open our understandings, and enable us all, with humble and teachable minds, to receive and embrace what he himself hath taught us. And now, O God, "send forth thy
light and thy truth, and let them, and them only, be our guide."
Poor erring man, when indulging his own speculations, is sadly prone to extremes; and there is perhaps no doctrine of the Christian revelation on which this woful propensity has discovered itself more fatally, than on that which is before us the nature and dignity of the Redeemer. While many good Christians have not hesitated to identify him in all things with the Father Almighty, and to regard him, in the strictest sense, as the most high, underived, self-existent, and eternal God-others have not scrupled to regard him as a mere prophet, vested indeed with extraordinary powers, but who had no existence previous to his birth in Judea; and thus reduce him at once to the common level of humanity. Between these extremes (neither of which appears to me consonant to Scripture,) there is a wide field, and room enough whereon to rest the faith of the gospel; and, as in the case of most extremes, the truth may be found to lie between.
The most unscriptural, and, as I take it, the most erroneous view of this subject, is that which denies the pre-existence of our Divine Saviour, and sets him nearly, if not altogether, on the level of the prophets and other inspired men. This view of Christ appears to me so utterly repugnant to the tenor of God's word, that
I feel the deepest anxiety, so far as in me lies, to prevent the possibility of its being entertained by any of you.
I shall, therefore, with the blessing of God, set myself, in the first place, to lay before you the Scripture view of the Divinity of the Son of God, embracing the pre-existence, the high dignity, the transcendant glory, of that Divine Redeemer, through whom, and through whom alone, we all look up to God for pardon, for grace, and salvation. In executing this task, I can take no course so satisfactory to you, and to myself, as by turning your attention at once to those portions of the word of God which speak plainly and definitely on this subject.
Although the passages to which I shall refer you for information on this part of my subject will be found to throw light in various directions, yet I wish you especially to regard them, at present, as they bear on the superior dignity and high exaltation of the Saviour.
For method's sake, I propose to classify my quotations under three distinct heads :-as they regard his pre-existent state, and the glory he had with the Father before the foundation of the world as they show forth the dignity of his nature, even during the period of his voluntary obscuration upon earth :-and as they speak of his still higher glory in his present state of exaltation at the right hand of God.
I shall first bring together a few scriptures