« PreviousContinue »
CCCLXXXIII. AN ENQUIRY INTO OUR VIEWS OF
Matt. xxii. 41, 42. While the Pharisees were gathered toge
ther, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ?
THEY who are prejudiced against the gospel, are ever studious to ensnare the preachers of it with captious, or, as they think, unanswerable questions
To such cavillers we should answer warily, and with meekness of wisdom
Nor will it be unuseful, on some occasions, to propose to them in return some question, which shall lead their thoughts into a better channel
Our blessed Lord adopted this method after he had been successively interrogated by Pharisees, Herodians, and Scribes
He returned to each a satisfactory answer, and silenced them at last by proposing to them a difficulty, which, with all their boasted wisdom, they were unable to solve
In discoursing on his address to the Pharisees, we shall point out I. The scope of his question
The Pharisees could not reconcile our Lord's mean appearance with his high pretensions
Our Lord therefore shewed them
1. That there were many apparent contrarieties in the prophetical representations of the Messiah
(The Messiah is sometimes spoken of as a new-born infant, and sometimes as the mighty Godb
He represented as an object of contempt and abhorrence, and yet as an object universally adinired and adorede
Sometimes he is said to live for ever, and sometimes to die an accursed death
He is called the Lord, and yet the son, the root, and yet the offspring, of David
a“ Master, what thinkest thou of paying tribute to Cæsar? ver. 15, 17. of the resurrection of the body? ver. 23–38. of the commandments? vcr. 55, 56.
b Isaialı ix. 6. c Isaiah liii. 3. and xlix. 7. Ps. xxii. 6. with Ps. Ixxii. , 10, 11.
Ps. Ixxii, 15, 17. and Ixxxix. 21---29, 33--37, with Isaiah liii. 4, 5, 12. last clause.
* Ver. 43-45. Rev. xxii. 15.
Nothing can be conceived more opposite than the characters which were thus represented as combined in the person of the Messiah
But the Pharisees noticed only those passages which flattered their pride, and raised their expectations of temporal grandeur Our Lord therefore directed their attention to other
prophecies, which described the Messiah in a more humiliating view]
2. That his apparent meanness was no just ground for their rejecting his pretensions to that character
[The miracles of our Lord had given abundant evidence of his divine mission
On account of them therefore they were bound to believe in him
But his humiliation was as clearly foretold as his power and glory
And the accomplishment of it in his outward state was an additional reason for their acceptance of him
A due attention to the scriptures, which they professed to understand and explain, would lead them to a discovery of this truth
Hence our Lord, solicitous not merely to confound, but rather to convert and save them, directed their thoughts to the point before us--]
Such being the scope of our Lord's question, let us consider II. The importance of it
In this question is involved all the glory of Christ, and all the salvation of man
1. On the union of the divine and human natures the sufficiency of Christ depends
[If he was a mere creature, his obedience could not merit any thing for us
All that he could do would have been no more than his bounden duty; and after having done all, he would have been only an unprofitable servant
Neither could his sufferings have made an atonement for our sins
There is no proportion whatever between the sufferings of one creature for a time, and the sufferings of myriads of creatures to all eternity
Nor is there any such distance between the highest and the
f Luke xvii. 10.
lowest of creatures, but that they must be equally unable to
the sins of a ruined worldMoreover, his intercession would be utterly unavailing on our behalf
It is the sufficiency of his atonement to satisfy the demands of law and justice, that forms the basis of his intercession
Let that foundation be sapped by a denial of his Godhead, and the whole superstructure must fall at once
On the other hand, if he be God as well as man, his obedience, his sufferings, and his intercession are exactly such as God's honour, and man's necessities, required-]
2. On our knowledge of this union the salvation of man depends
(Without such a view of Christ, we can form no just notion of his character
As we should be wholly ignorant of man's nature, if we supposed him destitute of a soul, so should we be of Christ's nature, if we were unmindful of his divinity
Without such a view of him we cannot feel a suitable disposition of mind towards him
However grateful we might be to a creature who should die for us, we must be infinitely more so for such a favour conferred on us by almighty God
Without such a view of him we cannot wholly depend upon him
Qur dependence on a creature must be limited; for, if it be unlimited, instead of saving us, it will subject us to God's heavy displeasure
But, to obtain salvation through him, we must know him clearly, love him supremely, and depend on him wholly
Whereas, if we think of him only as a creature, our knowledge of him must be confused, our gratitude feeble, and our dependence vain-] APPLICATION-WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST? 1. Do ye think of him at all?
[Alas! how many are there who think no more of him than if he never had come into the world!
If all the heathens who forget God their Creator, must be turned into hell, what must be the portion of professing Christians, who forget God their Redeemer?:-)
2. Do you think of him agreeably to his august character?
[Many consider him only as a good man, and a prophet
8 Heb. x. 4.
h Jer. xvii. 5.
But these are disparaging thoughts, which he will fearfully
You never can think of him aright, unless you consider him as “God manifested in the flesh,” and “purchasing the church with his own blood”—]
3. Do ye think of him with the affections due to that character?
[With what holy awe, what fervent love, what devout adorations should we behold our incarnate God!
And how contemptuous is our treatment of him, if our thoughts of him be not accompanied with such emotions!
It may be that some feel condemned by these observations, while they feel that they desire to love him with their whole heart
Let such then know that their desires are accepted and shall be fulfilled
And, instead of imagining that Christ has no love to them, let them be assured that his thoughts respecting them are most affectionate, and his designs towards them most benevolentk
Yea, if all of us would reflect more diligently on the account which the scriptures give of him, he would soon discover to us his beauty, and make us partakers of his glory-]
k Jer. xxix. 11.
CCCLXXXIV. THE MANIFESTATION WHICH
CHRIST HAS GIVEN OF THE FATHER.
John i. 18. No man hath seen God at any time; the only.
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
The knowledge of God is the great source of blessings to mankind
But the heathen world were altogether ignorant of him
Nor were the Jews themselves - fully instructed concerning him
To make a full revelation of him to the world was a part of that work which was reserved for Christ himselfVol. IV.
And this office he performed, to the unspeakable comfort of this church and people
The Evangelist unites his testimony with that of John the Baptist in confirmation of this truthWe shall enquire I. What Christ has declared of the Father
God himself is invisible to the eye of sense
Even Moses was permitted to see only his back parts"
But Christ had a peculiar relation to the Father as “his only begotten son;" and a most intimate acquaintance with him, as being from all eternity, and at that very hour, " in his bosom"-
He has made known the Father to us, and declared 1. His nature
[Mankind had gross conceptions of the Deity as a material being~
But Christ has assured us of his perfect spirituality-
Nor was the Unity of God clearly ascertained among the Gentiles
But Christ has left no room for doubt upon this subjectd
He has moreover revealed to us a Trinity of persons in the Godhead
He has affirmed in the plainest terms his own Oneness with the Father
He has spoken of the Holy Ghost as co-existing with himself and with the Father
And has joined the Three together as equal in authority and honours
Thus has he enabled us by faith to “ see him who is invisible") 3. His perfections
(God had long since proclaimed his Moses".
But Christ has afforded us more abundant disoveries of all his attributes
He has clearly shewn us that his goodness is unbounded, his sovereignty uncontrolled, his power irresistible,' his justice inflexible," his mercy infinite," and his truth inviolable
A I Tim. vi. 16.
b Exod. xxxiii. 23
e John iv. 24. r John xv, 26. i Matt. v. 45. m Ib. 42.