« PreviousContinue »
that he "was in the form of God," Philip. ii. 6. Which also answers to those expressions: "The brightness of the divine glory," or majesty," and the express image of his person," Heb. i. 3.
This consecration, this sanctification of Jesus, this plentiful communication of the gifts of the Spirit to him, is sometimes expressed by anointing, and answers to the character of Messiah. So Acts iv. 27, "For of a truth against thy holy child," or servant," Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, were gathered together." And Acts x. 37, 38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. For God was with him."
Thus Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his having the Spirit without measure. And hence we see the reason, why the Christ, or the Messiah, and the Son of God, are equivalent expressions. That they are so, is evident from divers texts. John i. 34, John the Baptist says: "And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God." And, as it follows in the same context, two of John's disciples heard the testimony, which he bore to Jesus. "One of those two was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him; We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ," or the anointed, and is plainly equivalent to what John Baptist said: "this is the Son of God." Afterwards Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him; We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." When Nathanael is convinced of the same thing, how does he express himself? It is in this manner: "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel:" two expressions, equivalent to that of Messiah.
The great article of faith in Jesus is sometimes expressed by believing him to be the Christ, at other times believing him to be the Son of God. John iv. 25, 26, "The woman saith unto him: I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ. When he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her: I that speak unto thee, am he:" or the Christ. Our Lord meeting the man, whom he had cured of blindness, says to him, John ix. 35, 36, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said: Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him: Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." Once more, 1 John v. 1, "Whosoever believeth that
Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." Then at ver. 5, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?”
To all which texts let me add here one or two more. Matt. xii. 17, 18, "That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying: Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.' And what follows, taken from Isa. xlii. 1-4. And Heb. i. 8, 9, "But unto the Son he saith:-Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
3. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his resurrection from the dead, on the third day, so as to die no more.
So the apostle says, Rom. i. 3, 4, "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Col. i. 18," Who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence." Heb. i. 6, " And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God worship him." Which indeed some have understood of our Lord's coming into the world at his nativity. But more generally interpreters have understood it of our Lord's entering into his glory, and taking possession of his kingdom, after his resurrection from the dead. Which brings us to one thing more.
4. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his exaltation to God's right hand, and being invested with authority and dominion over all flesh, and constituted the judge of the world, by whom God will pass sentence upon all mankind. John iii. 35," The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hands." Ch. v. 21, 22, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."
Philip. ii. 9, 10, " Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." Eph. i. 19, 20,"According to the working of his mighty power, 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 every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that
which is to come." Heb. i. 2, “ God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has made heir," or lord," of all things." Ch. iii. 5, 6," Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant.-But Christ as a son over his own house."
Some now by the Son of God understand an intelligent being, or emanation, begotten by the Father in an ineffable manner from all eternity, and of the same essence or substance with the Father. Others, a mighty spirit or angel, begotten or formed by the will of the Father, in time, before the creation of the world, and of a different substance from the Father. Which Son of God, eternally begotten, or in time, became incarnate; that is, united himself to the human nature, consisting of soul and body, or to human flesh, so as to supply the place of a human soul.
But it does not appear to be any where used in that sense in the gospels, where it frequently occurs. We find it in the professions some made of their faith in him, or their acknowledgments of the great character which he sustained, and which they supposed he had fully proved by the great works wrought by him, and the demonstrations of wonderful knowledge.
Simon Peter's confession before taken notice of, for which he was so much applauded, as recorded in Matt. xvi. 16, is: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That this confession implies an acknowledgment of his Master's being the Messiah, the great person who was to come, according to the predictions of the prophets, is manifest from the sequel. For hereupon our Lord, not judging it prudent that the disciples should as yet, with all their prejudices about them, declare that character every where : "charged them that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ," ver. 20; with which agrees the account in Mark viii. 29, 30, " But whom say ye that I am? and Peter answered, and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him :" that is, that they should not publish that their persuasion concerning him to others. To the like purpose in Luke ix. 20, 21," He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering, said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing."
Persons possessed by demons likewise bore their testimony to Jesus, that he was the Son of God, plainly intending thereby, that he was the Christ. Luke iv. 41, “ And demons came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art
Christ the Son of God. And he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was the Christ." The same must be the meaning of all others who make the same confession.
All these persons, then, when they confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, meant no more than that he was the Christ. And if this be the meaning of the phrase in the gospels, it is likely to be the meaning of it in the epistles.
But by the Christ, or Messiah, the Jewish people meant a man, who had the Spirit without measure, or in a greater measure than any of the prophets: a man, endowed from above with power, wisdom, and understanding, superior to all others, knowing the whole will of God, and appointed by the Father to reveal it, and capable of accomplishing all the great designs for which he should be sent.
II. I am now to show in the second place the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father. "Go to my disciples, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
1. The meaning of these words is this: I am now about 'to leave this earth, and am going to heaven, the place of the more especial presence and residence of God, and where are the brightest manifestations of his glory.' This, I say, appears to be the obvious and direct sense of the words, that Jesus was now shortly to ascend to the blessed abode, the regions of the heavenly world.
2. Our Lord intends, by this message to his disciples, to carry their thoughts to the things of another world, even to things spiritual and heavenly.
Upon our Lord's revival, and coming again among them, their fond expectations of a kingdom in this world might again take place. But our Lord, before he shows himself to them, (as he necessarily must do to give them evidences of his resurrection,) desires to prevent such low conceptions and false imaginations.
Whither he went, or was to go, was a question that had been often started in the course of his ministry; and it was a tender and affecting point. If he had left Judea, provided he would have set up a kingdom and government full of splendour, ease, and riches, men would have followed him, though to the greatest distance. To have left the land of Israel, to go and teach Gentiles, and Jews dispersed among Gentiles, in the same way that he had taught men in Judea, would have been offensive and disagreeable to many. But for him, who took upon himself the character of the Mes
siah, to speak of leaving this earth, and be no longer visible here, was exceeding discouraging; for it overthrew all hopes of a life in worldly ease and prosperity under him; which had been the expectation of carnal minds.
Let us observe the passages of St. John's gospel, where this enquiry appears; and we shall find, that our Lord himself gave occasion to it, and endeavoured, by what he said of his going away, to destroy that expectation which was so prejudicial to just sentiments concerning himself and the things of religion.
John vii. 32-36, "The pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them; Yet a little while I am with you; and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said; Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come ?”
And ch. viii. 20—23, “ These things spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple-Then said Jesus again unto them; I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins. Whither I go ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath. I am from above. Ye are of this world. I am not of this world."
Ch. xiii. 33, "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me. And as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come; so now say I unto you."Ver. 36, "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards."
Ch. xiv. 1-6, "Let not your hearts be troubled.-In my Father's house are many mansions.-I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also: and whither I go, ye know; and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest: and how can we know the way?" Such was the remaining ignorance, occasioned by the prejudices which they laboured under. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life:" and what there follows. Once more, ch. xvi. 5, 6, " But now I go my way unto him that sent me: and none of whither goest you asketh me,