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that Christ in himself perfectly possesses the power of giving life; that in this world he exercised it on himself, and many others; and that he will most wonderfully display the same power at the end of this earthly system, by raising to life the great congregation of the dead.
5. The forgiveness of sin is expressly ascribed to Christ. Thus in Exodus xxiii. 20, 21, already quoted for another purpose, it is said, Behold, I send an Angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him.' In this passage it is evident beyond a doubt, that the Angel who was sent before the Israelites, was possessed of the power and right to forgive sins. Otherwise God could not have thus cautioned the Israelites not to provoke him for this reason, since the reason would not have existed; and would therefore have been alleged insincerely. But this cannot be attributed to God. 2 Corinthians ii. 10. ' For, if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sake forgave I it, in the person of Christ.' The apostle here declares to the Corinthians, that he forgave the offenders referred to in his former epistle, in the person of Christ, or standing as his representative; but, if Christ could not himself forgive sins, the apostle might with equal propriety have said, that he forgave it in the person of any other: the person of Christ, here, being equivalent to the name and authority of Christ. But, if Christ had not the power to forgive sins, this authority would have been nothing. Colossians iii. 13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you.'
The import of this passage will be sufficiently understood, if it can need any explanation, by reciting the parallel passage, Eph. iv. 32. Forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.'
Acts vii. 59, 60. And they stoned Stephen, invocating, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.'
In this affecting passage, Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, and vouchsafed a vision of the glory of God, and of Jesus standing on the right hand of God, prays to Christ to forgive
the sin of his murderers. Words, one would think, cannot be more decisive.
Matthew ix. 2-7. 'And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, this man blasphemeth. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed unto his house.
In this passage, Christ said to the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.' Some of the scribes who were present accused him in their own hearts of blasphemy, and said, as Mark informs us, Who can forgive sin, but God only?' In this also they spoke the truth. Christ knew their thoughts, and asked them; ' Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and walk?' Both these acts belonging to God only, the latter is here, with supreme force, proposed as a test of the former. Christ, therefore, makes it such; and tells the scribes, that he will prove to them his power to forgive sins by his power to raise up the sick of the palsy, with a command. Accordingly as a proof in form, that he possessed this power, he says to the sick of the palsy, 'Arise, and walk.' The sick man immediately arose, and departed to his house.'
Here the power of Christ to forgive sins was denied by the scribes, and expressly asserted by himself. Of this assertion he undertook the proof, on the spot; and the proof proposed was a miracle. A miracle can be wrought by none but God; and God cannot work a miracle to prove a falsehood. The miracle was wrought; the assertion therefore was true.
6. The act of giving eternal life is abundantly ascribed to Christ in the Scriptures.
John x. 27, 28. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.'
Revelation xxi. 6. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.'
Revelation ii. 7. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.' See also verses 17 and 28.
Revelation iii. 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.' See also verses 12 and 21.
These passages need no explanation.
7. To Christ is ascribed the great and awful act of judging the world, and of acquitting and condemning angels and men. John v. 22. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.' See also, what will preclude any further inquiry, the account of the last judgment, given by Christ himself, in the 25th chapter of Matthew.
All these are confessedly the acts of the infinite God alone; and involve the absolute possession of power and perfection without limits. To create, preserve, and govern the universe; to give and restore life; to forgive sin; to bestow eternal life; to judge the world of angels and men, and to acquit, or condemn, finally and for ever, all intelligent beings; is, if any thing is, to be, and to act as being, the true God; the only infinite and eternal Jehovah.
In the great act of judging the world, particularly, the absolute exercise and the most wonderful display ever made of omniscience, as well as infinite justice, will be made. To judge righteously in this amazing case plainly requires the most exact and minute, as well as the most comprehensive and perfect, knowledge of all the thoughts, words, and actions of intelligent beings; together with all the aggravations and palliations of guilt, and all the enhancements and diminutions of virtue, which have existed in the universe. Consequently, whatever circumstances have attended these innumerable beings must be perfectly known, and actually present at once to the view of such a judge. Nor must he be less perfectly acquainted with the precise kinds and distributions of punishment and reward which the respective works and characters of these numberless individuals, in their endlessly various circumstances, justly require.
To these things must be added, what Christ directly challenges to himself, the power of opening and shutting heaven and hell, or hades, at his pleasure, and of conferring the tappiness of heaven and inflicting the miseries of hell on whom he pleases.
If, then, Christ be not God, the real God has so ordered things in his providence, that the peculiar displays of divine perfection, the greatest which will ever be made will be made by a creature, and not by himself. The creation, preservation, and government of the universe; the giving of life, and the restoration of it to the dead; the forgiveness of sin; the communication of endless life; and the final judgment of Intelligent beings; are the highest, the most peculiar, and the most perfect displays of the Godhead. Omnipotence and infinite wisdom are pre-eminently manifested in the formation and government of all things; infinite benevolence, in the forgiveness and salvation of sinners; and omniscience and infinite justice, in acquitting, and condemning, rewarding and punishing, the righteous and the wicked.
If then these, the most perfect displays of the Godhead, dɔ not prove Christ to be the real and supreme God, let me ask, In what manner and by what arguments shall we prove that there is such a God? The existence and perfections of this glorious Being have hitherto been always evinced from the creation, preservation, and government of the Universe. But these, if the Scriptures are true, are the acts of Christ. If then, they prove the existence of God at all, they certainly prove Christ to be God. If they do not prove him whose acts they are to be God, they do not prove God to exist at all; for they cannot prove him to be God, whose acts they are not. To what proofs, then, of the being of God are we to recur, unless we admit these to be the proofs? and if we admit them, how can we deny or doubt the Deity of Christ?
Let me further ask each member of this assembly to apply this subject to his own case, and say, whether he is not ready fearlessly to commit his all to him, who has done, and will do, all these amazing things? who in the Scriptures is called God, and Jehovah; and to whom all the attributes of the infinite mind are ascribed? If he is not, let me ask him, To what being is he willing to trust this mighty deposit-himself—his soul-his all?
DIVINITY OF CHRIST.
PROVED FROM DIVINE RELATIONS, SUSTAINED BY HIM; AND FROM DIVINE WORSHIP REQUIRED, AND RENDERED, TO HIM.
FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO, IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD SENDING HIS OWN SON IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH, AND FOR SIN, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.
FOR GOD, SENDING HIS OWN SON IN THE
ROMANS VIII, 3, 4.
LIKENESS OF SINFUL
FLESH, AND OF A SIN-OFFERING, HATH CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH (THE THING IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE LAW, BECAUSE IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH :) THAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW MAY BE FULFILLED BY US, WHO WALK NOT ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.
DR. MACKNIGHT'S TRANSLATION.
HAVING shown, in the two preceding Discourses, that Christ is spoken of in the Scriptures as the true and perfect God; because, 1. the names, 2. the attributes, and, 3. the actions of God are ascribed to him; I shall now proceed to consider the remaining particulars, proposed under this head: viz.
IV. That the relations which God sustains to his creatures are in the Scriptures ascribed to Christ; and,