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JOHN, i. 1-14.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The fame was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light fhineth in darknefs and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man fent from God, whose name was John. The fame came for a witneis, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was fent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he pow er to become the fons of God; even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father,) full of grace
THE idea of a beginning involves that of antecedent existence, from which that beginning originated. The beginning of a man's life implies parentage; the being of a tower of a city, neceffarily fuppofes a pre-exiftent head to plan, and a hand to execute. The vaft frame of Nature muft have had its commencement from a preceding skill to contrive, and a power to perform. The Mofaic account of the Creation is the only
only one that found reafon can admit. If GOD created the heavens and the earth, GOD was before the heavens and the earth. Mofes the hiftorian, and Join the evangelift carry us back to one and the fame era, carry us up to one and the fame all-wife, all-powerful Being. Nature and Grace, iffue from the fame fource, and end toward the same grand confummarion. The prophet and the apoftle employ the fell-fame terms to defcribe the fame objects. He that built all things
It has been remarked that the four Evangelifts introduce their great fubject in a retrograde feries of representation. Matthew's gofpel opens with a difplay of the Saviour's humanity, and pref nts us with his defcent as a man. Mark conveys us back to the age of prophecy, and " the beginning of the gofpel of Jefus Chrift the Son of God" is traced up to the predictions of Malachi and Isaiah. Luke the beloved physician refers us to the Levitical priesthood, to the altar of incenfe, and the fervices of an earthly fanétuary, "a fhadow of good things to come.” Bút John foars above all height; he recurs to the birth of nature, and afcribes that birth to a pre-exiftent, omnific WORD, which in " the fulness of time was made flesh, and dwelt among us." We have beheld his glory difplayed in the ages before the flood, in the perfons and predictions of patriarchs and prophets, by whom "GOD at fundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers." But Mofes and Elias have disappeared; the“ voice crying in the wilderness” is heard no more; it is loft in a "voice from heaven," saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."
We are now therefore to contemplate" him, to whom all the prophets gave witnefs," in his own perfon, doctrine, and mighty works; and, as the order of things prescribes, our contemplation must commence in what he was in the beginning, prior to the lapfe of time for "he is before all things, and by him all things confift." John," the difciple whom Jefus foved," long furvived the reft of his fellow-difciples He knew what fome of them had written. He lived to fee the progrefs of the truth as it is in Chrift. He faw the divine origin of Chriftianity demonftrated by its fuccefs, and he became a joyful martyr to the truth which he published to the world. A"brother and companion in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jefus Chrift," in common with other faints, he retired into exile in " the ifle that is called Patmos," a cheerful victim to "the word of God, and the teftimony of Jelus.
Jefus Chrif." In that facred retirement, more to be prized tha all the bleflings of fociety, he is vifited with the vifions of the Almighty, and becomes the highly honoured minifter of unfolding the character, offices and work of his divine. and beloved Mafter, from the days of eternity to the final confummation, when He who fitteth upon the throne fhall fay. "Behold I make all things new." The Gospel, according to St. John, and the Revelation of St. John, may therefore be confidered as together, forming an abftract of the plan of Providence from the first dawning of light upon the world of nature to the perfect day of the reftitution of all things." And one and the fame Agent is repretented as the animating principle which is before all, and through all, and in all.
In the beginning. The mind, with all its powers, lofes itfelt in furveying the works and the ways of God. I have a dark, indiftin&t recollection of my firft emerfion into thought. I can remember fome of the impreffions made, of the forrows and joys felt, when I was a little child. Soon after I began to exist, I began to perceive that I did exift, but for the knowledge of all that preceded I ftand indebted to a father's intelligence, to a mother's tenderness. They were to me the beginning of days and the oracles of truth. Their own pittance of illumination flowed in the fame channel. But there must have been a point when thought began. There must have been an intelligence which could communicate the power of comprehension; there must have been a fpirit which could breathe into man's noftrils the breath of life; there must have been one without a begin ning to make a beginning. And who He was the Evangelift unfolds.
In the beginning was the WORD. Let us not contend about the import of a Greek term. If our evangelift has not an intention to miflead, but one idea can be affixed to that term. He is evidently defcribing God the creator, in the view of leading us to know and to acknowledge the Redeemer of mankind as one and the fame with him. "Who was made flesh and dwelt among us ?" Who" came to his own and his own received him not?" Who" was defpifed and rejected of men?" The WORD that was in the beginning, and who has revealed himself by a display of fo many glorious attributes. "Without controverfy, great is the myftery of godlinels: God was manifeft in the fleth." Is this propofition to be rejected because it is myfterious? For the fame reafon the fyf tem of nature, in whole, and in all its parts, is to be rejected. All is my ftery; and all is revelation and difcovery, from the infect
fect too fmall for fight fwimming in a drop of water, up to yonder flaming orb which revolves at an immeasurable distance over our heads. Is not man a great mystery to himfelf? But is he to renounce his being because he is unable to explain it ? Is he to call the union of matter with mind an absurdity because their mutual influence escapes his penetration? How many combinations actually exift of which we have no perception, and which we would pronounce to be impoffible! In all the ways and works of the Moft High there is a wonderful mixture of luminousnefs and obfcurity, of minuteness and magnitude, of complexnefs and fimplicity. And Scripture exhibits the connexion of extremes fimilar to that which is apparent in the world of nature and in the ways of Providence. This is a prefumption at leaft, if not a proof, that they have all one original; and who can that original be but the divine perfon emphatically called THE WORD, which existed in the plenitude of power. wisdom and goodnefs" before the world was," but of whofe pexiftent ftate very general ideas only are communicated. Indeed none other can be communicated, for when the mind launches into infinity it is overwhelmed and loft. If the wisdom which cries, and the understanding which puts forth her voice in the writings of Solomon, be the fame with the WORD which was in the beginning, as a comparison of the two paffages will render highly probable, we fhall have a fublime and interefting idea of this pre-exiftent' ftate. The evangelift fays,
The word was with GOD, as the deliberative, active, determining principle of the Eternal mind. The wile man expands the thought, and reprefents the plans of eternal Wifdom as digefting; the framing, arranging, fupporting, governing, redeeming of a world, as in contemplation. As if admitted into the counfels of peace, he thus unfelds the purpose of Him who worketh all things after his own will, that all fhould be to the praife of his glory; "The Lord poffeffed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was fet up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were fettled; before the hills was I brought forth : while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the duft of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there; when he fet a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he ftrengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the fea his decree, that the waters fhould not pafs his commandment;
ment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the fons of men." Thus was the Word with God from eternity taking pleafure in the profpe&t of the fabric which He was about to rear; of the creature whom he was going to frame, and whofe nature he was in due time to affume; that he might make the children of men" partakers of the divine nature," an union as myflerious and incomprehenfible as that of foul and body, as that of the perfons in the Deity, and as evidently matter of truth and revelation as thefe are.
And the Word was GOD. Here" the difciple whom Jefus loved" recognizes in his Mafter, on whose bosom he leaned at fupper, "all the fulness of the godhead dwelling bodily." Left the expreffion the Word was WITH God might be fuppofed to imply feparation, difference, as a man who lojourns with his friend is nevertheless a different being from that friend, the evangelift fpeaks out fairly, tully, unequivocally, the truth which he himself believed, and which he was divinely inspired to deliver to mankind, that they alfo might believe. If St. John be not in thefe words delivering the doctrine of the real and proper Deity of Jefus Chrift, he is either himself labouring under a delufion, or he intentionally means to deceive, or there is no meaning in language, and confequently no distinct and fate channel of communication between man and man.
The fame was in the beginning with God. John ipeaks as a prophet as well as an evangelift. Forefeeing that "falfe teachers" fhould arife," even denying the Lord that bought them," he employs a clearness, a copioufnefs, a force of expreffion on this momentous point,not to be mifunderflood, not to be flighted, not to be explained away. When a mafter charges his fervant with a meffage of peculiar importance, he repeats it again and again, he puts it into every different form, in order to avoid ambiguity and to prevent mistake. This is evidently the cafe here. It must not be made a queftion, " Of whom fpeaketh" the evangelift thus?" of himself, or of fome other man ?" The identity of the person is ascertained beyond the reach of doubt. He is the fame before time began its race; the fame who set time a flowing; the fame through every period of duration; the Jame under every character and in every condition.
Where is the proof that the Word was God? All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made