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keep within the bounds prescribed by right reason, and closely to adhere to the plain and obvious declarations of Holy Writ.
Let it be remembered, then, in the first place, that our knowledge of the nature of the Deity must be extremely limited. We can gather, indeed, both from nature and the Scripture, that He must be infinitely wise and good, and that His power must be such, as far to exceed any idea we can form concerning it; but how these his attributes co-operate and harmonise, or how their influence is exerted for the good of inferior beings, it is quite impossible for us to say. Of the simple attribute of infinity we can entertain nothing like an adequate notion ; much less can we of the combined operations of others, each of which possesses this property at the least. On subjects of this sort, therefore, it will be our wisdom to say nothing: and to speak on others connected with them, with that moderation and reverence, which the depth and awfulness of the subject demand.
If, then, we take our stand on nature, and view the apparently interminable depths of creation, examine its wonderful order and regularity; and then calculate, as far as discovery has enabled us, the astonishingly mighty and minute adjustment which regulates all its parts; we cannot but conclude, that as far as these extend, at least, there must also be kept up the exertion of a power equally stupendous; but, at the same time, as much superior to these things as the artificer among ourselves is to the most ingenious and accurately constructed machine. In the latter case, we can see indeed how the impelling forces are communicated and carried on; and hence can calculate their effects, by knowing the quantities and directions of their moving causes; but even here, let it be remembered, our experiments are all regulated by laws, of the origin or reason of which we can know nothing. In the government of the motions of the universe, however, in which whole, and apparently eternal, systems of order and of action are kept up, we discover nothing of the cumbrance of machinery, nothing of the ropes and pulleys, the levers or the inclined planes, to which we are obliged to have recourse. Here all is quiet, orderly, and constant, - all, from the mightiest system down to the smallest insect, pursuing, without a murmur or sensible deviation, the great end for which they have been severally called into being. The Power, then, which has formed and still regulates these, is not only immense, omnipotent, and unsearchable, but wonderful in operation : his thoughts must therefore be as much above our thoughts as his ways are above our ways: but what these are, let none presume to determine.
This is, I think, what reasonable inquiry would arrive at with respect to the Deity; and this is just what our Scriptures teach us. “ He is the Creator of all things,” say they, and “by Him all things do consist.” “ In Him we live and move and have our being ;" and He is “the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity, before whom the inhabitants of the earth are but as grasshoppers.” “ He is,” say they, “ the eternal and invisible God, whom no man hath seen or can see ;” and,“ known to Him are all his works, from the beginning to the end ;" and, again, “ The very hairs of your head are all numbered,” and “not so much as a sparrow can fall without his permission.” To Him the grass of the field owes its verdure, the blossoms their beauty, and every thing existing its origin and its support.
Here, then, reason and Scripture agree:- they go hand in hand as far as knowledge is either attainable or useful, and there they stop. One remarkable difference, not discord, is, however, observable here, which is this : Our Scripture deigns to carry reason one step farther, in order to shew it, that God is not only an object of wonder and of terror, of majesty and power unapproachable; but of love inexhaustible: that not only is his care and providence extended to worlds innumerable ; but his goodness and love to thousands of generations, insomuch that a hair of their head cannot perish, nor one of their seed beg their bread. Nor is this superfluous. The reasonable soul must have perished, had it remained destitute of knowledge and mercy such as this. The mighty fabric of God's works could, in such a case, only have overwhelmed the mind in its endeavours to catch something like an adequate idea of His wisdom and greatness; while its hope, its love, and its sympathies, must have languished and expired. Here it could have found nothing capable of administering instruction or strength to its weaknesses, and nothing to foster or call forth the warm expressions of its praise. In this respect we may truly say, The law of the Lord is perfect, sweeter than honey, or the droppings of the honey-comb; and that in keeping it there is indeed a great reward.
We have arrived, then, at one conclusion, in which we find Scripture and reason united; and in which, generally speaking, there is no difference of opinion. Let us now approach the next question, namely, the Divinity of the Son; and here, as before, we will first consult reason, and, secondly, the Scripture.
If we can suppose it at all necessary, that a knowledge of God as an object of worship should be revealed, we can also see that some definite idea of his being ought also to be made known. Men are not sent into this world with minds rich in metaphysical knowledge; few can be so circumstanced or gifted as ever to make any considerable progress in this; and even the few who do, entertain notions so vague, discordant, and dissatisfactory, on the plainest questions, that any thing but agreement is found to exist among them. It may, therefore, have been the will of the Deity to afford, in condescension to our weaknesses, a definite idea of himself, in the Being called in the Scriptures his Son; and hence, perhaps, we are informed that our first parents were created in the image of God :* hence too we read of
* And, perhaps, with this view it is said, (Rom. v, 14,) that “Adam was the figure (rúkos) of him who was to come," -- namely, of Christ : and if so, the being created in the image of God must mean, not in the image of him who was and is invisible, but of him who should be revealed; which is fully justified in the first chapter of the Gospel by St. John. Hence, too, perhaps, the frequent instances occurring in the Old Testament, where the word angel is so used as to be synonymous with Jehovah and Elohim. (Gen. xxxii. 29; Hosea, xii. 4, 5, &c.) The ancient Jews and Targumists gave this
identifies with the dóyos of Plato, in order to suit his Platonism. In the same sense is it taken by St. John, i. 1, &c. It seems to me, moreover, scarcely to admit of a doubt, that the personification of Wisdom in the Proverbs, chapters viii. and ix., is intended to apply in the same manner with the Targumic N79 (Word) and the Word (aóyos) of St. John: and, it is very remarkable, that the Targums of Jerusalem and of the PseudoJonathan commence the first verse in Genesis with “ By wisdom,"(none) adopting the very sentiment contained in the Proverbs, viii. 22, 23, &c., which the writers of the New Testament apply immediately to Christ. (John, i. 3; Eph. iii. 9; Col. i. 16; Heb. iii. 3; Rev. iii. 14, &c.) This seems to have been the opinion of the ancient Jews, the Apostles, and some of the first
Jehovah having appeared to the Patriarchs and others in the form of a man; not for the purpose of lowering the idea which they ought to have entertained of Him, whom the heaven of heavens could not contain ; but only, to concentrate and present to their minds some definite idea of himself as the object of Divine worship. Now, to shew that there was a necessity that something like this should be done, we may perhaps cite the general character of man, as exemplified throughout the world, and in heathen countries in particular.
The notions of God held by the originators of idolatry, seem, as far as we can ascertain them, to have been as nearly concurrent as possible with the abstract notion generally held, and which we have already shewn is consistent both with Scripture and reason; but in all these cases, images, perhaps as personifications, were resorted to for the use of the many; and there are not wanting. even in Christian churches, and in modern times, those who still argue for the use of these ; and who actually introduce images for the purpose of collecting the wandering thoughts of both the literate and the illiterate,-a custom. deemed unnecessary and actually for
Fathers of the Church. That something similar might have been held by Plato, is easily enough to be accounted for, if such opinion existed, as it appears it did, among the Jews, prior to his times. The doctrine taught by Plato, however, differed most widely from that taught by the Jews: with him it formed part of the emanation system of philosophy; with them an article of religious belief, which they dared not attempt to explain. The manner in which the Targum of Jerusalem speaks on this subject is well worth notice,-it is this (Gen. iii. 22): 997 0907 7880 Oise 97 879 yoki &c. 80190 nova '917° X387 no googipsy 13 “And the Word of the Lord God said, Behold Adam, whom I have created alone (or rather only one, or only-begotten one) in my world, even as I am alone (or only one, or onlybegotten one) in the high heavens;" where, as Glassius justly remarks, (“Christologia Mosaïca,” p. 28), we see the Word (aópos) of St. John exhibited as the only-begotten, full of grace and truth. Bertholdt, indeed, has, in his “Christologia Judæorum,” thought proper to treat every thing occurring of this kind as mythical, as the mere fabrications of poetical genius, or the inventions of philosophy. We know, however, of neither poetry nor philosophy cultivated by the Jews, independent of their Bible; and their Bible they have always maintained to be God's word: their notions, therefore, must have grown out of the Bible, not the Bible out of their notions, as Mr. Bertholdt preposterously contends : and it is as much in our power, now to determine how far these notions are correct, as it was in that of any uninspired men at any day: being in possession, as we are, of the authentic documents used by them.
bidden in the Scriptures; and for this reason: Men are there taught to worship the Son even as they worship the Father ; that in him all the fulness of the Godhead dwells ; that he is the express image of his person ; that he is God, and was God in the beginning ; that he had glory with the Father before the world began; that he is the Creator of all things, and that without him was not any thing made that was made. And our Lord himself expressly declares, that he who had seen him had (as far as He could be seen) seen the Father; and that he and the Father are one. Here then a definite, not an abstract, notion of the Deity as the object of religious worship is inculcated : and I think I may affirm, that it is sufficiently intelligible for the most ignorant; while it presents nothing likely, either to offend the reason, to exceed the credibility, or be unsuitable to the wants, of the learned.
Another intelligible and practical end for which the Son of God was revealed, was to make an atonement for the sins of man; which we have seen could be effected by no other: but on this we shall now offer nothing more than this remark. We may, however, notice the circumstance of God made manifest in the flesh in one other point of view, and one in which it cannot but be valuable to us : it is this: Example is better than precept; it is, we know, more easy to be understood, and less likely to be mistaken. The Scriptures, we also know, have been and still are, grievously misunderstood and misapplied. Words are at best but unsteady mediums of instruction ; and it is on this account, that so much mistake is found to exist on this, and, indeed, on every subject, where nothing more stable can be called in to our aid. The example of Christ is therefore, in this respect, beyond all estimation valuable; and particularly with reference to those cases, in which we are, through the infirmities inseparable from our nature, most likely to fail. Experience tells us, that trial is the common lot of man: philosophy assures us, that it is unavoidable, and almost necessary: true religion declares, that the believer's undisturbed place of rest is in another state of being. But it is the character of Christ alone which exhibits the rich combination of power without insolence, dignity without pomp, faith without ostentation-of forbearance, forgiveness, and even prayer for his enemics, under circumstances the