"The Word was God."--John 1:1

"That Christ is truly God is manifestly declared, in that Paul attributes the same things equally unto Him, which he does unto the Father, that is, divine power, as the giving of grace, the forgiveness of sins, peace of conscience, life, victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell. Now to give grace, peace, everlasting life; to forgive sins, to make righteous, to quicken, to deliver from death and the devil, are not the works of any creature, but of the Divine Majesty alone. The angels can neither create, nor give these things. Therefore these works pertain only to the glory of the Sovereign Majesty--the Maker of all things. It must needs follow that Christ is truly and naturally God." –Luther.

In the preceding chapter, a rapid survey has been taken of the more important scripture attestations (and more especially those contained in the Old Testament), to the supreme Godhead of the Redeemer.

We proceed to complete the proof, by referring to a few of the leading assertions of the inspired writers in the New Testament, in support of the same cardinal truth of the Christian system. We must refer the reader, who wishes more minutely to prosecute inquiry, to those ampler treatises compiled by masters in Israel, wherein the faith of the Church in the Divinity of her Lord has been nobly vindicated.

To begin with testimonies contained in the GOSPELS. We shall not attempt to enter on the proof from miracles; although to these, our blessed Lord Himself pointed, as special attestations to His divine mission. When the Baptist sent some of his own disciples from the prison of Machaerus with the query, "Are You He that should come, or do we look for another?" what was the Savior's reply? With what proofs did He confirm and authenticate His Messiahship in the eyes of these wavering and misgiving followers? He stretched forth His hands on the surrounding groups stricken with sin and suffering--the palsied with their tottering limbs--the blind with their sealed eyes--the fever-stricken with their burning lips--the demon-possessed with their wild and vacant stare--"He healed them ALL;" and then, pointing the messengers to the masses thus restored by His omnipotent touch and word--the closed eye opening to the light of day--the halting cripple leaping with joy--the dull ear of the deaf unstopped--the fevered couch emptied of its tenant--the wild raving maniac led gently as a child--"Go," said He, "Go your way, and tell John what you have seen and heard."

Let us, however, rather restrict ourselves to a few of the direct statements contained in the Gospels and Epistles.

We may begin with another testimony of that same great Forerunner to whom we have just alluded. "John bore witness of Him, and cried saying, This was He of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that comes from above is above all."

More explicit still is the witness of the other John. When he wrote his Gospel, the venerable Saint of Ephesus was the last survivor of the apostolic band. Well might the eagle, with its strength of wing and soaring flight, be deemed by the early Christians his most appropriate emblem--reaching, as he did, altitudes attained by no other in the regions of uncreated light and glory, as if basking in the very beams of the unveiled Sun of Righteousness! "Impatient," says Augustine, "of setting his foot on the earth, he rises, from the very first words of his Gospel, not only above earth and the span of air and sky, but above all angels and invisible powers, until he reaches Him by whom all things were made." Surely if there had been no other proof in Scripture, this sublime epitome of the teachings of the favored apostle (part of which heads this and the former chapter), would of itself suffice to settle the question--"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made."

What language could be more forcible or conclusive? "This passage," to take the testimony of Griesbach among those of a hundred scholars, "is so clear and so superior to all exception, that by no daring efforts of either commentators or critics can it ever be overturned, or be snatched out of the hands of the defenders of the truth." There is, in these utterances of the beloved Disciple, nothing figurative--nothing parabolic. They consist of a series of simple propositions--the articles of a creed, which John, in an age when heresy was rampant, left as a sacred legacy to the Church of the future as to the supreme divinity of the Incarnate Word--the "Image of the Invisible God."

But we cannot linger on the testimonies of the Gospels. Eliminate from these the fact of His absolute Deity, and they become incomprehensible. You try to quench the radiance which beams out on every page. As it has been well said, "Reduce Him to a mere teacher like Plato, or a Prophet like Isaiah, and it is as if the Gospels were emptied of their meaning. The very substance of the doctrine is gone--the teaching of Jesus is little more but a tinkling cymbal. All that sublime mystery which has nourished the souls of saints in all time, is then rightly pronounced the most defective portion of His teaching. If He is not God, the divinest side of His doctrine becomes the most vulnerable. It can only subsist, if beneath the formulas is felt the throb of a life which is truly of God."

Passing from the Gospels to the EPISTLES. Although not directly a proof of absolute Godhead, let us begin with Paul's assertion, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich." "Though rich"--what could this mean on the supposition that Christ was a mere man? His lowly birth--His manger cradle--the carpenter's home at Nazareth--all these render the reference surely to His "riches" inappropriate. He was, in earthly condition, the poorest of the poor; a Galilean peasant; who had at times not where to lay His head! Moreover, on the supposition of mere manhood, how could there be "grace" manifested by Him in assuming our nature? Where would be the condescension in a man taking upon him the common garb of humanity? The whole force of the apostle's words is lost on such an hypothesis. But take the true view of this noble passage. Regard the writer as speaking of the mighty stoop of Infinite Godhead, and all becomes plain!

We may select as our next reference, that contained in the same Apostle's Epistle to the Philippians, in which he clearly and indubitably claims for Christ the possession of a nature and perfections immeasurably superior to the most exalted and glorious of dependent existences--in other words DIVINE. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." "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, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Stronger and more emphatic still is the Apostle's language in another sublime passage, where he anticipates the very heresies of later centuries, and controverts the erroneous views of those who would assign to Christ no more than an exalted place in the ranks of creatureship, making Him 'an inferior workman, creating for the glory of a higher Master--for a God superior to Himself'--a passive instrument rather than an original and originating agent. He vindicates His dignity and glory as Lord, 'in His creative power, His eternal existence, His heirship over the universe--that universe, the theater on which He is to accomplish His purposes and display His perfections…ascribing to Him, therefore, infinite power, infinite wisdom.' "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers--all things were created by Him and for Him and He is before all things, and by Him all things are held together."

It has been well observed, that "while the Epistle to the Hebrews lays almost more emphasis than any other book of the New Testament upon Christ's true humanity, it is nevertheless certain that no other book more implicitly asserts the reality of His divine prerogatives." Let us listen to the impressive exordium--"God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds, Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and UPHOLDING all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels said He at any time, You are My Son, today have I begotten You? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He brings in the first-begotten into the world He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels He (only) says, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire. But unto the Son, He says, Your throne, O GOD, is forever and ever."

We have already listened to the apostle John in the opening of his Gospel. Let us now hear the same honored disciple in the opening of his Epistles. We may repeat the introductory words--"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.)" Again, "And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we might know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and (the) eternal life."

Another indirect class of evidences is furnished conjointly, by passages, contained in gospels and epistles, in which adoration is rendered to Christ. We know that worship or adoration is given to God alone. We know, moreover, from various statements in the Old Testament, how jealous the Divine Being is of giving His glory to another. "It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." When John, also, fell at the feet of the angel, and was about to render him an act of homage, he was rebuked by the words, "Do not worship me. …worship God." The very fact, therefore, of the Son having adoration ascribed to Him, forms surely the strongest testimony, that not only is He higher than any angelic being, but has a title to deity itself. We have already heard our blessed Lord Himself claiming the prerogative, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." "That at the name of Jesus," says the Apostle, "every knee should bow." More than once in the apostolic benedictions, He is put on an equality with the Father, as if entitled to receive parity of homage--"The grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit." And if we pass from the Church militant to the Church triumphant in heaven, described in the Book of Revelation; as an appropriate close to all, we listen to the divine ascription of the "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." No testimony or tribute to the Savior's supreme Divinity can go beyond this, in its impressiveness and sublimity. We behold, in wondrous vision, concentric circles of worshipers in the upper sanctuary--"angels, living ones, and elders." They are represented as gathered, in devoutest adoration, around a slain and wounded Lamb, gazing on these mysterious symbols of suffering in a place where suffering is unknown--The Rock of Ages furrowed with mysterious clefts and crevices! From one of these circles (the inner favored group of redeemed humanity), there comes the ascription which they alone are qualified to utter, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." But the key-note thus struck by the white-robed band, is taken up by teeming myriads, reaching to the outskirts of illimitable space. All creation becomes vocal with the hymn to the same enthroned Lamb, once more associated and identified with the Supreme God--"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four-and-twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that lives forever and ever." "And the four living ones said, Amen. And the four-and-twenty elders fell down and worshiped HIM THAT LIVES FOREVER AND EVER."

Such then, briefly and imperfectly summarized, are some of the leading scriptural attestations to the Savior's Divinity; and we would say to all readers on the retrospect, "As wise men, judge." Are we prepared to bow with reverence before Him, and to say in words of more emphatic adhesion and acknowledgment than those of Nathaniel, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel?" or, like one who loved Him as her son, but adored Him as her God--"My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior? or with the once doubting, but now convinced and believing Thomas--"My Lord and my God?" Let us seek to grasp and realize the full grandeur of this Truth of truths; to have it more frequently before us as a subject of devout contemplation--that the Christ of Nazareth, the Savior of Calvary--He who bled for me as Man upon the cross, and pleads for me on the throne, is the Mighty Jehovah; that He was before all things; that He reared every arch and pillar in the Universe Temple. "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number--He calls them all by their names." Before these stars were made, before these altar-fires were lighted in immensity, before man or angel or seraph, throne or dominion or principality or power existed, this all-glorious Being lived--one in essence and substance with the Eternal Father.

Any lowlier view of the nature and dignity of Christ would not suffice. It would be like blotting out the sun from these visible heavens to attempt to erase the supreme divinity of Jesus from the creed of Christendom. No angel, no creature could save me. The incarnation of the highest archangel before the throne, and his voluntary substitution as a sacrificial offering for my sins, would be a simple impossibility. No creature of God can atone for the sin of a fellow creature. The fact of creatureship would vitiate the work of such a surety. As a creature, though the loftiest and purest, his life is not his own. He is himself a pensioner on God's bounty. In dying for me, and forfeiting his life, he would be forfeiting that which was not his to give.

Add to this, if Christ be no more than the first and most exalted of angels, He would necessarily be devoid of the attributes and prerogatives of Deity. Divest Him of these, and how dwarfed and limited immediately become His capabilities, alike as Intercessor and King. If a mere creature, even though on the pinnacles of creature-being, how could He be omnipresent with His Church? He could listen afar, so to speak, to the hum of the world's swarming population, as we do from window or balcony, on some great festal occasion, to the multitudinous voices--'the loud stunning tide' of the surging throng beneath, without being able to catch or discriminate one articulate utterance.

But He must be God--He must have the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, to enter into every separate home and take cognizance of every separate heart, and have an ear for the music of every separate prayer, and a hand to wipe every falling tear. As our Great High Priest on the throne, He is said to wear the breastplate gleaming with the names of all His covenant Israel. But how could He thus bear them, in the sense of knowing each individual name, if that heart of His did not throb with the pulses of Deity? How could He control the destinies of the Church and of the world if "all power" had not been His of right? How could He be "unchangeable" if His own will and purposes were dependent on a Higher? Christ a mere man! Then what a mockery to say to slumbering millions, "Awake, you that sheep, and arise from the dead, and CHRIST shall give you life." Oh, if He be but a creature, though the highest in rank in the heavenly peerage, I cannot confide to Him my eternal destinies. If He who bowed His head on that cross be a mere man and no more, I cannot look to Him as the Rock of Ages! A creature! as well pillow my head on the unstable wave. But blessed be God, I can plant my foot upon the living Rock of His deity. I can trust in Him, not as a prince, or as the son of man, in whom there would be no stay--but I can "trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is THE ROCK OF AGES." Invoking Him as such, I can with devout confidence of a gracious answer, join in the prayer, "O GOD the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!"

Indeed, independent of the imperative need of Deity to qualify Him to be a complete Savior, we cannot read the record of His own wondrous life, without seeing in it the element of supporting Godhead. What but Deity could have upheld Him in His own trial hour? Look at His temptations in the wilderness and the garden! What but the Rock of His Godhead could have stood, as wave after wave rolled against it? Adam was a pure and glorious creature. But when these same billows swept over him, he was borne away like a reed on the waters. Satan was once a pure and glorious creature (supposed to have been at the head of all created intelligences), a chieftain and lord amid principalities and powers. The billows of temptation in his case, also, came--he was driven with his legions down into the fathomless abyss. If Christ had been only a creature, how can we dare predicate of Him that He could have better withstood the assaults of evil? But as these crested breakers surged against 'the Rock,' we know how they receded, chafed and buffeted. The Prince of this world came and had nothing in Him!

Reader, enter this glorious Cleft! Come, adore the mystery of godliness, "God manifest in the flesh"--the Divine Being who created by His word--who sustains by His providence--who, as the God-man, redeems with His blood. Come, contemplate His nativity, with its mystic star and shining hosts of angels, the silence of night made vocal with celestial song. Come, behold His wondrous works. See, as we have just been beholding, sickness taking wings at His word. See demons crouching rebuked in His presence, and yielding reluctant admission to His claims. See Him reading the inmost thoughts of an outcast sinner at the well of Samaria. See Him claiming power to forgive sin by the palsied couch at Capernaum. See the waves of His own Gennesaret having their turmoil quelled--rocking themselves to rest at His omnipotent "Peace be still." See Death casting his iron crown at the feet of the Lord of life--its fettered Victim bursting the bands that swathed him.

Does the Socinian say, Who but man could shed these tears at Bethany? Yes, we reply, but who, save God, could speak these words, "Lazarus, come forth!" Come to the cross of Calvary. See the sun hiding his face at the death-throes of his Almighty Maker, and earth heaving convulsive to her core! See the mysterious Sufferer encircling with a halo of glory the brows of a dying malefactor, and in the hour of His own deepest humiliation, opening the gates of Paradise to the vilest and most miserable of sinners! Come to His own grave, the sepulcher at Golgotha--behold the crowning proof of His divinity, when "declared to be the Son of God with power, by His resurrection from the dead." See Him standing as the God-man with His vacant sepulcher behind Him--with all the chains and bonds and missiles of Satan, meant for His destruction, now gathered as trophies of victory. Come, see the pictures drawn of His future universal reign, by psalmists and prophets--"the Great jubilee of pardoned humanity," when welcomed as Prince of Peace, King of kings and Lord of lords, to the throne of universal empire--Midian, Ephah and Sheba--(the Bedouins of the desert--the children of the far east), hastening on dromedaries with their gold and incense--the ships of Tarshish, the symbols of the civilization of the west, bounding over the waves with their costly offerings of fidelity and adoration. The glory of Lebanon on the north, and of Ethiopia in the south, is laid tributary at His feet--the wealth of the material creation, beautifying and adorning the place of His sanctuary--His dominion extending "from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."

That dominion secures deliverance, redemption, peace--the numbers of His spiritual adherents--the members of His Church, are likened to doves flying to their windows--flocks of living souls, "whose wings are covered with silver, and their feathers with yellow gold," speeding for shelter and repose into the clefts of this mighty ROCK--and yet room for all! See kings and princes casting their crowns and scepters before Him, esteeming it an honor to be servants and vassals of a Mightier--His name enduring forever--continuing long as the sun--"the whole earth filled with His glory" the voice of a great multitude heard in heaven--increasing until it is like the voice of many waters--deepening into the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns."

And then, as the Drama of Time is in the act of closing, behold Him coming "with clouds" (clouds, the invariable symbol and emblem of deity,) every eye seeing Him--behold Him seated "as the Ancient of Days"--His garment "white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool,"--His throne like the fiery flame, and wheels as burning fire; thousand thousands ministering to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him. Yes! let the Unitarian take His Gospel without Godhead in it--let Infidelity attempt to reduce the Person and mission of the adorable Immanuel to that of the mere Founder of a new system of divine philosophy, a new Head of a religious school--be it ours to pay a nobler and truer homage to Him who is unveiled to us in sacred story as "the Word," "the Life," "the Light," "the Truth," "the Omnipresent," "the Heart-searcher," the "Beginning and the ending," the Creator of worlds, the Redeemer of souls--the Wonderful--the Adored of angels--the appointed judge--the enthroned King--the I AM of eternal ages! Be it ours to testify that the struggles and toils of 1800 years have not been made, to defend and vindicate a monstrous delusion--that thousands of crowned martyrs now in heaven have not shed their blood to uphold a lie. Be it ours to see in Him, the Creator who has plenished the universe with worlds--the glory of illimitable Godhead enshrined in a human tabernacle--aye, and better still, be it ours to be able to say in reverential faith, as we fall adoring at His feet, "This God shall be our God forever and ever!"

We would only imitate the example of the Psalmist, and in conclusion, call upon all creation to rise and do homage to this its Incarnate Maker. Praise Him in the heavens! Praise Him in the heights. 'O Sun of this great world, both eye and soul,' reflect His glory! Moon! take your silver lyre--strike your harp in the praise of your God! Stars, gather your brilliant gems as a coronal for His brow! Floods, rise and thunder forth His praise. Every flower that blooms, come and waft your fragrance around the rose of Sharon. Lisping infancy, come with your Hosannahs. Penitence, come bathed in tears. Sorrow, come in the extremity of anguish to this Divine Sympathizer, this living God yet your Brother. Youth, come with your green ears of consecration. Manhood, come in your strength. Old age, come leaning on your staff. Come, saints and prophets of olden time! Come, noble army of martyrs! Come, you heavenly hosts! cherubim and seraphim, gather in to the universal homage! Let the Church triumphant echo back the strains of "the Church throughout all the world"--"YOU ARE THE KING OF GLORY, O CHRIST--YOU ARE THE EVERLASTING SON OF THE FATHER!"


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