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DIVINITY OF CHRIST,
DIVINE RELATIONS, SUSTAINED BY HIM;
DIVINE WORSHIP, REQUIRED, AND RENDERED, TO HIM.
ROMANS viii. 3, 4.
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 likeness of sinful flesh, and
of a sin-offering, hath condemned sin in the flesh, (the thing impossible to 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,
1st. The Names, 2dly. The Attributes, and, 3dly. The Actions, of God are ascribed to him; I shall now proceed to consider the remaining particulars, proposed under this head : viz.
4thly. That the Relations, which God sustains to his creatures, are, in the Scriptures, ascribed to Christ; and,
5thly. That divine Worship is in the Scriptures required to be rendered, and by persons inspired was actually rendered, to Christ.
In examining the Relations, sustained by God to his creatures, and ascribed in the Scriptures to Christ, so copious a field is opened for discussion, that it can only be partially surveyed at the present time. I shall, therefore, confine my attention to the fol. lowing particulars.
1st. Christ sustains to the Universe the Relation of Creator.
In the passages, quoted in the preceding discourse, to prove, that the act of creating is ascribed to Christ in the Scriptures, it is asserted, that he is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; of Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers ; and of every individual thing, which hath been made. In the Relation of Creator he stands, therefore, to every being, great and small, in the Heavens and in the Earth. Atoms were called into existence by his word: Angels owe to him their exalted being. This is a relation, which no being, but the infinite JEHOVAR, can sustain; and is plainly that, on which all the other relations of God to his creatures depend. Accordingly, God challenges this character to himself, as his character alone, sustained by himself only. I, saith he, am JEHOVAH, and none else ; forming light, and creating darkness; making peace, and creating evil: I Jehovah am the author of all these things*. Whatever the Creator makes is in the most absolute sense his own; and can in no sense belong to any other, unless by his gift. Whatever connection, therefore, exists between God, as God, and creatures, as such, arises originally, and entirely, from the act of bringing them into being. All the rights which the Infinite Mind claims, and holds, over the Universe, and all the duties of Intelligent creatures, spring, originally, from this source only. It is His Universe, because He made it. They are His property, because by Him they were created. As
As their Creator therefore, they look to him, and him
* Isaiah xlv. 6,7. Lowth.
alone, to whom they are indebted for every thing, and to whom they owe every thing, which they can do; because every thing, in which they can be concerned, depends upon their existence. But for this; however excellent, great, and desirable, he might be, and however deserving of their love and admiration ; still they would not be his. This, God himself teaches us in direct terms. Remember these things, O Jacob; and Israel, for thou art my servant. I have formed thee; thou art my servant. saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O‘Israel, fear not, thou art mine. Out of this act of giving existence arises, then, his property in all creatures; and his right to give them laws, to control their actions, to judge, reward, and punish them, and universally to dispose of them according to his pleasure: together with all their corresponding duties. То Christ, then, belong all these rights. But who can possess these rights, or sustain the Relation, out of which they arise, beside the only, living, and true God?
In sustaining this relation to the Universe, Christ possesses, also, of course, all the attributes, necessary to it, and displayed in the work of creating ; particularly the power and wisdom, manifested in the production of all things. This power and wisdom are plainly infinite.
I know it is said by Emlyn, and other Arians, that we do not see the infinity of these attributes displayed in creating the Universe; and that they may, for aught that appears to us, have existed in a sufficient degree for the production of all things, and yet not have been infinite.
On this subject I observe,
1st. Thal of creating power, in the abstract, or unexercised, we have no idea at all; and, therefore, cannot thus discern it to be infinite. 2dly. We cannot comprehend infinity in any sense.
The mind, which can comprehend infinity, must itself be infinite. When we speak of infinite power, as evident in the creation of all things, we simply declare the fact, that this power is infinite. That infinity exists with respect to duration, expansion, or any thing else which is infinite, we may perceive distinctly; and yet are perfectly unable to comprehend eternity, or immensity.
3dly. The power of creating, or giving existence, is evidently a subject, to which limits can no more be assigned in our thoughts, than to duration, or space. Plainly, he who gave existence to one atom, can give existence to Atoms, and therefore to worlds, without number. He who gave intelligence, who formed men, and angels, and archangels, can form all kinds, and degrees, of intelligence, which can be formed; and can raise men, and angels, and other rational beings, to any height, to any perfection, of intelligence, which in the nature of things is possible. To this power, therefore, no other bound can be set, beside possibility. He who formed all things cannot create contradictions. This, however, is no circumscription of his power; for if it could be done he could do it. The only difference, which would exist, would be in the nature of the things themselves, and not in the power of the Maker.
4thly. If Creation and Preservation be not a proof of infinite power, there is no proof, that such power exists. Of this there needs no illustration, but one: viz. that these are the only sources, whence infinite power has been hitherto argued in the present world: for the argument a priori I consider as of no value.
5thly. We plainly cannot see, that Creating power is not infinite; nor can we furnish a single argument for the support of such a conclusion. The doctrine is, therefore, a mere gratuitous assumption; and merits as little consideration, as any other such assumption.
6thly. Creating power is the source of all power that exists, except itself. If therefore creating power is not infinite, there
no infinite power. Christ therefore, as the Creator of all things, possessed originally all existing power; whether we allow it to be infinite, or not.
7thly. The Scriptures have determined this point so far as the subject of this Sermon is concerned: for in Hebrews iii. 4, they say, Every house is builded by some one ; but he that built all things is God.
It will be easily discerned, that the remarks made here, concerning the power, displayed in Creation, are with equal force applicable to the Wisdom, exhibited in that work.
2dly. Christ sustains also the Relation of Preserver.
That God is the only preserver of the Universe is unquestionably evident to the eye of Reason; and has accordingly been acknowledged by all men, who have acknowledged a God. It is, also, in the most definite manner declared in the Scriptures. In Nehemiah ix. 6, the Levites at the head of the Congregation, assembled for a solemn, national fast, blessed God in these terms. Thou, even thou, art Jehovah alone, thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts; the earth, and all things that are therein; the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all: and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. Thou art Jehovah, the God, who didst choose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham. In this passage it is declared in the most explicit terms, that He, who preserves all things, is the Being worshipped by the host of heaven; Jehovah alone; The JEHOVAH; The God; according to Parkhurst and Lowth, The Jehovah, The true, eternal, and unchangeable God; the God who chose Abram, brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name of Abraham. In the subsequent verses we are further informed, that he is the God of Israel; the great, the mighty, and the terrible God; gracious and merciful; the Author of all the wonders in Egypt, the Red Sea, and the Wilderness, and of the dispensation of the law at Sinai ; the only object of prayer, supreme love, faith, and obedience. Yet all things consist by Christ, and he upholds them all by the word of his power. He, therefore, is this JEHOVAH; this God.
The relation of Universal Preserver is plainly a relation incapable of being sustained by any being but Jehovah. It involves a knowledge of all beings, and all their circumstances; a power present in every place, and to every being, at every moment; sufficient in degree to hold in existence, to keep together, and to continue in order and harmony, the mighty frame of the Universe ; to roll the innumerable worlds, of which it is composcd, unceasingly, through the expansion; and to control, with an irresistible sway, all their motions, affections, and inhabitants ;