« AnteriorContinua »
which plainly declare to us the pre-existence of that Saviour, and the glory he possessed with the Father, not only before his appearance on earth, in character of a Mediator, but before the foundations of this world were laid.
In the history of the ministry of Christ, given by the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, I do not find one passage directly bearing upon the point now under consideration. But we find the evangelist John commencing his gospel with these remarkable words-on which I shall have occasion to comment on another part of the subject. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made." And in the 10th verse of the same chapter-" He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." At the 29th verse of the same chapter, John the Baptist, "seeing Jesus coming unto him, saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me."
Hear now a few of his own express declarations on this subject. In the 3d chapter of John's gospel, he tells us, "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven." John vi. 38, he says, "for I came down from heaven,
not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John vi. 51—“I am the living bread which came down from heaven."-62d verse, "what and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" In the 8th chapter of John's gospel, at the 22d verse, we find the following declarations of Christ on the same subject. Addressing himself to the Jews,he saith, "ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world."-42d verse, "Jesus said unto them, if God were your father, ye would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me."-58th verse, "Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am." In the 16th chapter of John's gospel, at the 28th verse, our Lord saith, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father." And as the close of his ministry on earth drew near, he offered up to the Father that most heavenly and delightful prayer, which is preserved in the 17th chapter of John's gospel, of which the text forms a part:-"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." And at the 24th verse of the same, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
In close conformity with these declarations of the Redeemer, are those which we find through the writings of his inspired Apostles. Take the few following as examples.
The Apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, xv. 47, tells us, that "the first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven." In his second epistle to the Corinthians, viii. 9, he saith, "ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." In that to the Ephesians, iii. 9, he tells us, that "God created all things by Jesus Christ.” In that to the Colossians, i. 13, he tells us, that "the Father hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist; and he is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence : for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell."
The same Apostle begins his epistle to the Hebrews with this lofty description of the high nature, dignity, and office, of our Divine Saviour: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake, in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son; whom he hath appointed heir of all things; by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
Now, these few, but plain and express declarations from the lips of Christ himself, and those of his inspired Apostles, might be sufficient to convince all mankind, at least they fully convince me, of the pre-existent dignity of our Divine Saviour, and of the high blessedness and glory which he had with the Father before he appeared on earth; nay, before this earth, or its inhabitants had any being. I shall now bring together a few passages of holy scripture, which must give us high conceptions of the superior dignity of the Redeemer, even during the period of his voluntary obscuration and abasement.
I forbear, under this head, to notice the miraculous works of our Lord Jesus Christ in proof of his divinity. I am aware that some have laid much stress upon the miracles of Christ in this point of view, but I cannot concur with them.
They do indeed clearly demonstrate the divine mission and office of the Redeemer: but I should no more think of proving his divine nature by his miraculous works, than I would think of setting about, by the same rule, to demonstrate the divinity of Moses, and the prophets under the old dispensation, or that of the apostles of Christ under the new. But there are considerations connected with Christ's ministry on earth, which to me have always presented much stronger demonstrations of his divine character and office.From among which I select the following.
According to the testimony of Christ himself, there had not, from among those born of women, arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist; and yet we hear John the Baptist (Matt. iii. 11.) bearing this witness to the great superiority of the Messiah: "I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost." And in the 16th of the same, the evangelist tells us, that "when Jesus was baptised of John, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And in the 41st and 42d verses of the same chapter, speaking of his own preaching, and of his own wisdom, we hear Christ declar