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in those two great precepts, . Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself;' and in the means of producing obedience to these precepts in the soul of man. What is there in these precepts which can be the object of vindicable hatred? Who will stand up and say, , who will
say in the recesses of his own heart, it is an odious and contemptible thing to love God, to obey his voice, to believe in his Son, to shun the anger of God, to escape from endless sin and misery, and to attain everlasting virtue and happiness? Or is it, in the view of common sense, wise to choose the anger of God rather than his favour, a depraved character rather than a virtuous one, the company of apostates and fiends rather than of saints and angels, and hell rather than heaven?
Is it odious, is it contemptible, is it ridiculous, does it deserve obloquy and persecution, to love our neighbour as ourselves,' to exhibit universal kindness, to deal justly, to speak truth, to fulfil promises, to relieve the distressed, to obey laws, to reverence magistrates, to resist temptation, to be sober, chaste, and temperate, and to follow all things which are • honest, pure, lovely, and of good report?'
Is it, on the contrary, honourable, is it praiseworthy, does it merit esteem and reward, to be impious, profane, and blasphemous; to be infidels; to have a seared conscience; to possess a hard heart; to be unjust, unkind, and unfaithful ; to be false, perjured, and seditious; to be light-minded, lewd, and gluttonous ?
Is not the true reason of all this hostility to Christians, the plain superiority of their character to that of their enemies? Does not the hatred arise from their consciousness of this superiority; from the impatience which they feel whenever they behold it; from the wounds which neighbouring excellence always inflicts? Do they not feel that good men cast a shade upon their character; reprove them, at least by the silent and powerful voice of their own virtue ; serve as a second conscience, to hold out their sin before their eyes, and alarm their bearts with a secret and irresistible sense of future danger? Do not wicked men say in their hearts, as they said at the time when the Wisdom of Solomon was written, Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings. He upbraidVOL. II.
eth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us, even to behold : for his life is not like other mens, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits ; he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness; he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed; and maketh his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death; for by his own saying he shall be respected.' Apply this description, and you will find it as exact and just, as if it had been written yesterday, and intended to mark out, in the most definite manner, the loose and profligate of our own land.
But let Christians remember, that these things will not always be. The time will come, it will soon come, when their enemies, however numerous, proud, and prosperous, ' will like sheep be laid in the grave. Death shall feed on them; and the worm sball cover them. Their beauty shall consume away; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning.' Then shall all the just be far from oppression, for they shall not fear : and from terror, for it shall not come near them.” God shall redeem them from the power of the grave,' and shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' Then shall it be seen, that their · light affliction' in the present world was but for a moment, and that its real and happy efficacy was po other than to work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.'
CHARACTER OF CHRIST,
AS A KING,
WHICH HE WROUGHT IN CHRIST, WHEN HE RAISED HIM FROM THE
DEAD, AND SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES ; FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT. AND DOMINION, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, NOT ONLY IN THIS WORLD, BUT ALSO IN THAT WHICH IS TO COME. AND HATII PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET; AND GAVE HIM TO BE THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH.
EPHESIANS 1. 20—22.
I HAVE now in a series of Sermons examined the character of Christ, as the Prophet and High Priest of mankind. Under his prophetical character I have considered his preaching, by himself, and by his apostles——the things taught by both—the manner in which they were taught—and their consequences. Under his priesthood I have considered his personal holiness -his atonement and his intercession.
I shall now, according to the original scheme mentioned when I began to discuss the mediation of Christ, proceed to consider his character as a King.
That this character is given to Christ in the Scriptures, in instances almost literally innumerable, is perfectly well knowu to every reader of the Bible. In the second Psalm there is a solemn annunciation of the kingly office of Christ to the world. It is introduced with these words, I have set,' or,
. as in the Hebrew, have anointed, my king on my holy hill
of Zion.' 'Unto us,' says Isaiah,' a Child is born ; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Father of the everlasting age, the Prince of peace; and of the increase of his government and of his peace there shall be no end : Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever.' • The Lord hath sworn,' says David,' and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek.' Melchisedek was both a king and a priest. The priesthood of Christ, therefore, was a 'royal priesthood ;' or the priesthood of a person who was at the same time a king: like Melchisedek, king of righteousness, and a king of peace.' • Thy throne, O God,' says David, 'is for ever and ever; and the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness. He shall reign,' says Gabriel, when predicting his birth to Mary,
He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.' · His name,' says St. John, • is called the Word of God; and he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.'
In the text we are presented with several interesting particulars concerning the kingly office of Christ, which shall now be the subject of our consideration.
We are taught in this passage,
III. That this dominion was given and assumed for the benefit of the church.
I. We are taught, that God hath exalted Christ to this Dominion.
This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the text, in the following expressions : ' He set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.' He hath put all things under his feet.' –
" • He gave him to be head over all things. In these expressions the exaltation of Christ to the dominion and dignity ascribed to him in the text, is as unequivocally attributed to the Father as it can be in human language. Of course, their plain import inust be acknowledged by every Christian. I insist on this
doctrine of the text; I have insisted on it; particularly be cause it has been made by Unitarians an argument against the divinity of Christ. “ If,” they say, “ Christ is a divine person, whence is it that we hear so many things said in the Scriptures concerning his exaltation, and particularly of his exaltation by the Father? If Christ is God, how is it possible that he should be in any sense exalted? But should we, contrary to plain probability, suppose him to have undergone voluntarily an apparent humiliation, can he who is truly God be indebted to any other than himself for a restoration to his former dignity and greatness ? To be exalted at all necessarily involves a preceding state of inferiority, particularly to the state to which he is exalted ; and, certainly, of inferiority to the proper state and character of Jehovah. He who has all power, knowledge, wisdom, and greatness, cannot have more; and, therefore, can in no sense be exalted. To be exalted by another person, also, involves dependence on that person ; and a dependent being cannot be God.”
As this, in my view, is the most plausible argument against the divinity of Christ, and that which has had more weight in my own mind than any other, though, I believe, less relied on and less insisted on by Unitarians, than some others, I shall consider it with particular attention.
As a preface to the answer which I intend to this objection, I observe, that the argument contained in it is in my own view conclusive ; and, if applied to the subject without any error, must be admitted in its full force. The error of those who use it, lies in the application made of it to Christ. That exaltation involves a state of preceding inferiority is, I apprehend, intuitively certain ; and that he who is exalted by another must be a dependent being, dependent on him by whom he is exalted, cannot be denied. Let us see how far this argument is applicable to Christ, and how far it will conclude against his Deity.
It must be acknowledged by all Trinitarians, as well as others, that if Christ be God in the true and proper sense, it is impossible for him to be exalted above the dignity and greatness which he originally and always possessed. He cannot be more powerful, wise, or excellent. He originally possessed all things, and therefore can have nothing given to him. It cannot, of course, be in this sense that the scriptural writers speak, of Christ as exalted.