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Jesus asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that
I the Son of man am ? Whom do ye say that I am?
THE chief reason why our Saviour is so slighted,
and why his words are of so little weight with the greatest part of mankind, is, because they do not know who he is. And even among those who are called by his name, and read is scriptures daily, there are not many who heartily believe in him.
From hence it is that some, when they speak seriously, or talk of religious matters, chuse as little as possible to name Jesus Christ, or his merits and redemption, but rather mention God Almighty, our Maker, the Divine Being, &c. and the more is the pity. It is often looked upon as ridiculous to speak of our Saviour as the true and very God; and such as venture to do it, must expect to be scorned and jeered, and laughed at for it, and will surely be as speckled birds, and as fools in all company. And thus for want of true faith in him, ministers, people, and whole countries, by little and little, leave the primitive doctrine of Christ, and get into a sort of refined heathevism; and this, I fear, is too much our case in these realms, where
once the churches looked upon the Redeemer as their only Lord, and watered this doctrine with the blood of some hundreds of martyrs; and upon which our English church solemnly professes to be built in all her Articles and Homilies.
In opposing superstition and the unreasonable and unscriptural principles of a degenerate church, some have unawares denied the faith, and rushed into infidelity, and a modest sort of atheism. To, prevent ny Christian brethren from this, I will endeavour, if possible, to be a means; and therefore have chosen this text, which are the words of our Saviour to his disciples, and which I will speak of in order.
Our Saviour knew what was in man, and needed not that any one should teach him ; but, to prove his disciples, he once asked them, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" They answered, “ Some say thou art Elias; others say thou art Jeremias ; and some think thou art Jobp the Baptist, or one of the old prophets risen from the dead.” How confused were
many at that time, and how few thought right! But it seems much the same even now, for see how all men differ in their judgments about him. The Turks say, he was a just person, a prophet of God, but no
The Jews are divided; the most part look upon him as a deceiver, and the very destroyer of their religion and country, and do not like to hear of him ; while a few, less rash, think better of him : but none will bear to hear that he is the Lord Jehovah : in them is that scripture fulfilled, “ He came to his own, and his own received him not,” John i. 11. Among the nominal, or so called, Christians, men who confess the truth of the New Testament,
• See the hyinn after the Communion.
how many opinions are there? Some look upon the , Son of man as a prophet and apostle of God, the last'and greatest of all the seers, or one of the highest of the principalities, whom God has honoured and, appointed to be the founder of our religion and pattern of Christianity ; which religious order he stored with divine and wholesome laws, perfected, its precepts, lived in it a holy life, as a pattern and example; and, at last, after he had been a preacher of the best doctrines and solid morality, died a martyr for his religion. There are others who think, him still more, and conclude, that “ no man could do the miracles that he did, except God was with him ;" and these can easily consent that he is the Son of God, and no mere man, but nevertheless will have a God, whom they call the Father, greater than he, and above him, and are far from meaning Jesus, when they read or speak of God Almighty; neither do they worship or pray to him as the Lord of heaven and earth, Jehovah.
From whence proceed these different principles of Christ? Why from bence, being ignorant of the scriptures and the power of God. If they had known the scriptures, they would answer cheerfully when asked, " What do ye think of Christ? He is the Lord, the Lord from heaven, the I AM; him, which is, and which was, and wliich is to come, the God of our fathers, the Lord God Almighty;" for thus the scriptures preach him every where. And had their hearts ever been enlightened by the Father; had they ever been taught of the Holy Ghost, or felt the power of God upon their own souls, they would consess with Thomas, “ Thou, art my Lord and my God!" or, with St. Peter, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" And, in another place, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke v. 8.
Thus it is then that men are prone to err and judge according to their own weak reason, that neither the best confessions of faith, creeds, acticles, homilies, liturgies, nor even the scripture itself, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, can make them think rightly, or believe worthily, of the Son of nian, our Lord.
What will be most proper to be considered in this discourse will be,
First, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and his eter'nal being and supremacy before all worlds, of all 'w hich he is the Maker, Lord, and Upholder.
Secondly, The doctrine of his humanity, or that mystery of grace, his holy incarnation, and for what end he was made man, and suffered death.
Thirdly, The hearty confession of a truly christian
I shall confine myself to speak only as the oracles of God, and to say none other, in defence and proof of these things, than what Moses, the prophets, the psalıns, and witnesses of Jesus have beforé spoken. The church, which is the pillar and ground of truth, has always received the testimony of the scriptures, and we know, “ if any man hear not these, then neither would he be persuaded though one rose from the dead." Where some have dared to question their veracity and truth, and vers tured imprudently to jest or trifle with the words of God against their own conscience; such I leave to the Judge of all the earth, who in that day shall judge the dead out of the things written in the book; and on purpose I will speak only to those who receive the scriptures as the true sayings of God.'.
I believe no one can read the Bible, and count Christ's divinity a new doctrine ; for then he must 2 c 2
have eyes and not see, and ears and not hear, since all the prophets have witnessed of him, and put it out of doubt, that he is the same that appeared to the fathers, the holy One of Israel, the true God and eternal life; and this will be plain from what follows.
It is said in the xviiith chapter of Genesis, the Lord appeared to Abraham, that Abraham saw him, that he pleaded with him, that the Lord went his way from communing with him, &c. In the xxvith chapter it is said again, the Lord appeared to Isaac : and in the xxxiid chapter, he met Jacob, wrestled with him, gave him a new name, &c. And Jacob said, “ I have seen God face to face ;" and from hence he was called, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, i. e. the God who appeared to them, whom they served, and who blessed them.
In like manner he appeared to Moses, not only when he was hid in the rock, and the glory of God passed before him, and he saw the back parts of Jehovah, but it is also said, “ he saw a similitude of God more than other prophets, and spake with him face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend,” Exod. xxxiii. 11. Numb. xii. 8. So Manoab and his wife saw God, Judges xiii. 22. So Joshua saw the Lord and worshipped him as the Lord of hosts, Joshua v. 14. Micaiah says, “I saw the Lord,” i Kings xxii. 19. Isaiah says the same, " I also saw the Lord,” Isaiah vi. 1. And Daniel says, “I beheld the Ancient of Days," Dan. vii. 9. After all which our Saviour affirms, “ No man hath seen the Father," John vi. 46. “ Him whom ye say is your God, no man bath seen at any time, John i. 18. 1 John iv. 12. But then who was it that appeared ? Whom did Moses and the prophets see? It was Jesus Christ : All saw him and