The Atonement in its Relation to the Godhead of Christ.
The Divine Attributes Entwining Around the Tempted and Trembling Believer
"The church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood." Acts xx. 28.
In entering upon the more immediate discussion of this glorious subject, it seems proper and appropriate that we should begin with the absolute Deity of Christ. The reader will at once perceive the propriety of this, from a consideration of the single fact, that all the value and efficacy of the atoning blood is derived solely and entirely from the dignity of the person who sheds it. If Christ is not absolutely and truly what the Word of God declares, and what he himself professes to be, the true God, then, as it regards the great purpose for which his Atonement was made, that is, the satisfaction of Divine justice, in a full and entire sacrifice for sin, it were utterly valueless. We feel the vast and solemn importance of this point. We cannot view it lightly, nor discuss it partially. And in reading disquisitions on the Atonement, otherwise able and elaborate, we have been pained to find this single point passed by, with so superficial and casual an allusion: whereas it is of the deepest importance; it is the key-stone of the arch, sustaining and holding together every part of the mighty fabric. Our examination of the claims of Christ to proper Deity cannot be too close: we cannot too rigidly scrutinize the truth of his Godhead; Jesus himself challenges investigation. When personally upon earth, carrying forward the great work of redemption, on all occasions, and by all means, he announced and proved his Deity. Thus was he wont to declare it: "I and my Father are one." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM." "I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." Thus was he wont to confirm it: "I have greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father has sent me." "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him." Our blessed Lord saw and felt the importance of a full belief in the doctrine of his Godhead. If the foundation of our faith were not laid deep and broad in this, he well knew that no structure, however splendid in its external form, could survive the storm that will eventually sweep away every lying refuge. And what, to the believing soul, is more animating than the full, unwavering conviction of the fact, that he who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, was God in our nature?- that he who became our surety and substitute, was Jehovah himself: "God manifest in the flesh?"- that, as God, he became incarnate, as God, he obeyed, and as God-man, he suffered the penalty? What deep views does this fact give of sin! what exalted views of sin's atonement! Pray, dear reader, that the blessed and Eternal Spirit may build you up in the belief of this truth. It is a truth on which we can live, and on no other can we die. That Satan should often suggest suspicions to the mind respecting the veracity of this doctrine we can easily imagine. That a dear saint of God should at times find his faith wavering in its attempts to grasp this wondrous fact, "the incarnate mystery" we marvel not. It is the very basis of his hope; is it surprising that Satan should strive to overturn it? It is the very sun of the Christian system; is it surprising that he should seek to veil it? Satan's great controversy is with Christ. Christ came to overthrow his kingdom and he did overthrow it. Christ came to vanquish him, and he triumphed. This signal and total defeat Satan will never forget. To regain his kingdom he cannot. To recover what he has lost he knows to be impossible. Therefore his shafts are leveled against Christ's members. And the doctrine, to them most essential and precious- the doctrine of Christ's Godhead- is the doctrine most frequently and severely assailed. Let no believer sink in despondency under this severe temptation. Let him look afresh to the cross, afresh to the atoning blood; and faith in Him, whose word stilled the angry waves of the Galilean lake, and whose look prostrated to the ground the soldiers sent to his arrest, will give him the victory.
It is our design in this chapter to bring before the reader, in a limited compass, the scripture testimony to the Deity of our adorable Immanuel, and the just inference which is derived in favor of the Divine efficacy of his atoning blood. The result of this scripture investigation will compel us to adopt one of two conclusions- Either that Christ is an impostor- his Atonement of no value, and the worship we have rendered him mistaken and idolatrous, or, that he is all that the Scriptures declare him to be, the supreme God; his death vicarious- and he himself a just object of spiritual worship. While, if the former conclusion be the one fairly deducible from the Word of God, then it will appear that they who reject Christ's Deity, are opposed to the most stupendous and transcendent display which has, or ever will be, made of the Divine wisdom and goodness, and consequently, dying in this rejection, are doomed to the fearful punishment of those who are found fighting against God.
The supreme Deity of Christ rests for its proof upon the testimony of God's Word. We bring the doctrine to no other test; nor shall we, in examining this testimony, perplex the mind of the reader with needless criticisms. It is an erroneous impression which many have imbibed, that the Scriptures cannot be understood without the constant application of philological criticism, to bring to light their deep and concealed meaning. If this were so, then is God's Word lost to more than two-thirds of the human race, who have no such key to its concealed treasures, and consequently the very purpose of revelation must be entirely frustrated. The holy men who wrote the Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were, in general, plain and unlettered men. They were educated at the Savior's feet; and therefore a beautiful simplicity of style- a style unadorned by the arts of rhetoric, and untrammeled by the technicalities of the schools pervades all their writing. We are far from undervaluing the aid afforded in the investigation of revealed truth by the labors of able and learned biblicists- the Church owes them, and will ever owe them, a debt of gratitude. "I deny not the utility of such learning," are the sentiments of a profound scholar and eminent divine; "but I wish to establish a correct idea of the nature and extent of its utility, as seldom reaching beyond the explaining of allusions and phrases of minor importance; while the great facts and doctrines, the precepts and the promises of the gospel, are expressed in terms the most plain and the least associated with remote allusions." And when we turn our eyes towards Germany, and discover a decrease in evangelical piety, of true vital Christianity, almost in the same ratio with the advance of philological learning, we are compelled to yield our preference to the scriptural and simple method of investigating religious truth; that is, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Jesus Christ is the true God; if this be scripturally proved, then the inference will be indisputable, that his precious blood is of priceless value and sovereign efficacy.
It has been usual, in establishing this doctrine, to refer to the various modes by which God has manifested himself in his own sacred word, and then to trace the application of each and all these several particulars, both in nature and degree, as they are attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The modes of manifestation are- the names which are given to him- the attributes which are ascribed to him- the actions peculiar to himself- the relations which he sustains to created beings and the worship which he has demanded from his intelligent creatures. Let us then proceed to show how Christ stands forth invested with each and all of these several properties of Deity. We begin with the NAMES which are given to God.
The idea conveyed to the mind by the names Jehovah, Lord, God, are self-existence, omnipotence, infinite and absolute perfection; indeed, they include all the awesome attributes which belong to the Divine nature. Now then our argument is this; Jehovah is the incommunicable name of the eternal, self-existent God- if it can be shown that in the Scriptures of truth Christ is called Jehovah, Lord, God, then Christ is God.
We commence with Numbers xxi. 5-7: "The people spoke against Jehovah, and Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many people of Israel died." Now compare this passage with 1 Cor. x. 8: "Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents." To what conclusion do these passages conduct us, but to the blessed one, that the Person whom the rebellious Israelites tempted, who inflicted the punishment, and who swore they should not enter into his rest, was the Eternal Son of God Jehovah Jesus?
Again, Isaiah vi. 1- 6: "In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also Jehovah sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy! Holy! Holy! is Jehovah of hosts! the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the whole house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts." And in the eighth verse, "Also I heard the voice of Jehovah, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me! And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear indeed, but understand not; and see indeed, but perceive not; make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and be healed." Compare these passages with John xii. 39- 41: "Therefore they could not believe, because that Elijah said again, He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Elijah, when he saw his glory and spoke of him." Whose glory was it that Elijah saw, and of whom did he speak? It was the glory of the only- begotten Son of God- and of Him he spoke. It was the Glory of Christ as the King Jehovah of hosts- the Ancient of days- He that was to come. Here, dear reader, might we pause and adore the great Jehovah for this glorious revelation of himself. Blessed Immanuel! give us, by the teaching of your Spirit, clear, close, humbling views of your exalted person. Keep our souls fast anchored on this truth, that you are God in our nature.
But let us proceed. Regard the declaration of the Evangelist- John i. 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." What can more clearly and conclusively prove the real Deity of our dear Lord than these words of the Holy Spirit? Not merely is it declared that the Word was God- even this would have been overwhelmingly conclusive- but the Word, as distinguished from the Father, and as so distinguished, declared to be God as absolutely as the Father himself was declared to be God. Another instance in which the term God is applied to Christ, is found in Rom. ix. 5, "Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen." Here is a distinct declaration of the complex person of our Lord. Touching his humanity, he came from the Jews; touching his Deity, he is God over all. Can language be more explicit? 1 Tim. iii. 16, "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit; seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." Here Christ is declared to be the visible Jehovah. God embodied in Christ, clear, tangible to our apprehensions. Will not this single passage suffice to remove every doubt? We have yet other and equally conclusive evidence. Is Jehovah the great God? so is Christ- Tit. ii. 13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior" ("the great God our Savior," marg.) "Jesus Christ." Is Jehovah the true God? so is Christ- 1 John v. 2O, "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding that we may 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 eternal life." Is Jehovah the mighty God? so is Christ- Isa. ix. 6, "Unto us 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, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." What was the declaration of Thomas, after his doubts had vanished, and his mind received the full conviction of the truth? "My Lord and my God!" Again, 2 Peter i. 1, "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God and our Savior" ("God our Savior," marg.) "Jesus Christ;" 2 Cor. v. 19, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,"; 2 Cor. v. 2O, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we beg you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God:"- in which passage the interchanging of the names God and Christ, proves that the same person is entitled to both.
Again, let us compare the Word of God with itself. Isa. viii. 13, 14, "Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel." The stone of stumbling and the rock of offence, mark, is the Lord of Hosts himself. But this stone of stumbling and rock of offence, as appears from the language of Peter, is no other than Christ. 1 Peter ii. 6, "Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; and he who believes in him shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, who believe, He is precious; but unto those who are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence." Who with a mind not steeled against the truth, but open to conviction, can doubt that the same Being who is called Jehovah of Hosts in the Old Testament, is the Lord Jesus Christ in the New? To the proud and unbelieving Jews he was a stone of stumbling and rock of offence; but to us who believe, he is precious.
Further, Isa. xliv. 6, "Thus says the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts, I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Compare with Rev. xxii. 13, "I (Jesus) am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." These titles are confined to him alone, besides whom there is no God. Jesus has assumed these titles to himself; inference, strictly logical, is, Jesus is God. We would also direct the reader to that remarkable prophecy which was fully accomplished in Christ, recorded by Zech. xi. 12, "If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." Who is the speaker in this passage? Jehovah. Who was sold? Jehovah Jesus. At what price? For thirty pieces of silver. Let the reader turn for the exact fulfilment of this prophecy, to Matthew xxvii. 3- 1O, "Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them in the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called the field of blood unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy (or Zechariah) the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value: and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."
The last proof we quote is Isa. xlv.23, "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Compare this prophecy with Rom. xiv. 11; The Apostle argues that all creation should do honor to Christ, "For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." What is the solemn inference? that the God who predicates that all men shall give account to him and stand before him, is the same referred to in the tenth verse- "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." Thus have we shown, from the simple testimony of Scripture, that Christ is, without qualification or diminution, Jehovah, Lord, God. We now proceed to show that the Lord Jesus, our adorable Immanuel, is represented in God's Word as invested with all the ATTRIBUTES which belong to Jehovah.
Let us commence with his ETERNAL EXISTENCE. If it can be proved from the sacred Scriptures that this belongs to Christ, it must follow that he is God; for of no other being can it be said that he is eternal, but Jehovah. Examine then Coloss. i. 17, 18: "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." In this striking and beautiful passage, Jesus is declared to be before all created things. Could this be true, if he himself were a created being? Christ is either created or he is uncreated. He is a creature or the Creator. There is no intermediate scale of being. We repeat it, he must be one of two, the creature or the Creator. If a mere creature- and the Socinian allows him to be no more- then it were absurdity to suppose him creating all things, for he must have been created before he could create; then he could not have been before all created things. If, too, he were a mere creature- and still let it be remembered the Socinian and Arian deny that he is more- how could he uphold all things? For he would need an upholding power for himself. No mere creature ever has or ever can sustain itself. The angels could not, for they fell. Adam could not, for he fell. And Christ could not have sustained himself in the solemn hour of Atonement when standing beneath the mighty load of his people's sins, had he not been more than creature- the uncreated Jehovah. His humanity did indeed tremble and shudder and shrink back- but, upborne by his Godhead- secretly, invisibly, yet effectually sustained by his Deity, he achieved a complete triumph, made an end of sin, and brought in a new and everlasting righteousness. If, too, he were a creature only, how could he give spiritual life to the dead, and how could he sustain that life when given? All spiritual life is from Christ, and all spiritual life is sustained by Christ- "Christ who is our life,"- the life of the soul- the life of pardon, the life of justification, the life of sanctification, the life of all the Christian graces; the life of all that now is, and the life of all that is to come. Glorious truth this, to the saint of God!
Compare Rev. i. 8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Isa. xliv. 6: "Thus says the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts, I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." We refrain from commenting on these passages, so self-evident is the truth. Turn to our blessed Lord's conference with the Jews, in which he asserts his eternal existence; John viii. 58: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Does not Jehovah apply these very terms to himself? Exod. iii. 14: "And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am." How then are we to understand these words? Not by the Socinian's gloss, but by the conduct of the Jews: "Then took they up stones to cast at him." They considered Christ guilty of blasphemy in applying to himself the incommunicable name and attributes of Jehovah. They perfectly understood him to mean that he was God. Had he not been truly Divine, would he have left them under so fearful a delusion? And would he have jeopardized his life, when by a single retraction he could have allayed their rage, and averted the danger that threatened him?
What a consoling view do we derive of Christ, from this revealed attribute of his nature! Is he eternal?- then his love to his people is eternal; his love to them being co-existent with his very being. It is not the love of yesterday or of today- it is the love of eternity: its spring-head is his own external existence. Is he eternal? Then must he be unchangeable too: his precious love, set upon them from all eternity, can never be removed: having given them himself, himself he will never take away. Blessed thought! he may blight earthly hopes; he may break up earthly cisterns; he may wither earthly gourds; he may send billow upon billow, breach upon breach, but never, never will he take himself from the people of his love. Dear reader, you may be conscious of many and great departures; this single view of your Father's unchangeableness may recall to your recollection backslidings many and aggravated; forgetfulness, ingratitude, unkindnesses without number; murmurings, rebellion, and unbelief. Still does God, your God, say to you, 'Though you have dealt so with me, though you have forgotten me, though your name is rebellious, yet do I love you still. Return unto me, and I will return unto you.' What a soul-humbling, heart-melting thought is this! Does your Father love your sins? No- does he look complacently on your wanderings? No! He hates your sins, and he will follow your wanderings with his chastising rod; but he loves your person, beholding you in the Beloved, fully and freely accepted in the glorious righteousness of Jesus, who is the same "yesterday, today, and forever." If this truth, dear reader, be broken up to your soul by the blessed and Eternal Spirit, the effect will be most holy and abasing. The legitimate tendency of all spiritual truth is sanctifying. Hence our blessed Lord prayed that the truth might be the medium through which his people should be sanctified. "Sanctify them through your truth. "John xvii. 17. "And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth. " Ver. 19. And hence the apostle reasons, "Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water, by the word." Eph. v. 26. That God's truth has been, and is abused by wicked and ungodly men, is no argument against the truth. They abuse it to their own condemnation; they turn it from its right and legitimate use to their own loss. Still, the truth stands firm in its peerless dignity and holy tendency: and when unfolded to the understanding, and laid upon the heart by the Holy Spirit, Christ's prayer is answered, in the progressive sanctification of the soul.
OMNIPRESENCE is an attribute of Deity ascribed to Christ. We would refer the reader to two portions of Scripture for proof; they both run in parallel lines with each other. In Matt. xviii. 2O, we have this encouraging declaration from Christ: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Compare this with Exod. xx. 24: "In all places where I record my name, I will come unto you and will bless you." Thus the reader will perceive that the identical promise which God gave to his ancient church, when he established her in the wilderness, when he gave to her the law, built for her the tabernacle, and instituted for her a sacrifice, the Lord Jesus makes of himself. Consoling thought! Jesus is with his saints at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. He is "God with us." He is with them to comfort them in the hour of sorrow, to enlighten them in the hour of darkness, to guide them in the hour of doubt and perplexity, to deliver them in the time of conflict, to support them in the hour of death. O for faith to realize this! He was with his three faithful servants in the fiery furnace; he was with Daniel in the lions' den; he was with Jacob in his wrestlings at Bethel; he was with John in his exile at Patmos. Jesus is, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, with his dear people. Reader, are you a child of sorrow?- perhaps you are a son or a daughter of affliction: you may now be passing through the furnace; you may now be draining adversity's bitter cup: the rod of the covenant may be heavy upon you: friends unkind, the world empty, every thing earthly changing, faith weak, corruptions strong, and, what embitters the cup, and deepens the shade, your Father hiding from you his dear reconciled face. Is it so? Still is your omnipresent Jesus with you. Do not be cast down; this furnace is but to consume the tin and burnish the gold, this draught is but to work your inward good: these painful dispensations, by which you are learning the changeableness of every thing earthly, are but to wean you from a poor, unsatisfying world, and to draw you near and yet nearer to Jesus. Then be of good cheer, for he has promised never to leave or forsake you. So that you may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper."
Regard the attribute of OMNISCIENCE as belonging essentially to Christ. John ii. 24, 25: "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man." We beseech the reader to regard attentively 1st book of Kings viii. 39, where the same attribute, in almost the same expressions, is ascribed to Jehovah: "For you, even you only, know the hearts of all the children of men." Whose prerogative is it to search the heart? who can fathom this fathomless sea of iniquity? who can follow it in all its serpentine windings? who can detect its deep subtlety?- who? "I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins." A mere creature- such as the denier of Christ's proper Deity would make him- cannot know the heart. It is a perfection peculiar to God, and must in its own nature be incommunicable; for were it communicable to a creature, it could not be peculiar to God himself. Were it possible, we say, that God should delegate the power and prerogative of searching the heart, and trying the reins of the children of men to a mere created being, then it could with no propriety be said of him, that he only searches the heart. And yet to Jesus does this attribute belong. In the prophecy of Jeremiah xviii. 1O, the Lord says, "I, Jehovah, search the heart and try the reins, to give every man according to his ways." In Rev. ii. 23, Christ says, and he would have it proclaimed through the churches as the true doctrine of the Gospel- "And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches the reins and hearts, and I will give unto every one of you according, to your works." Is not then the evidence of his Deity most conclusive? Who can resist it? From this attribute of Christ what blessedness flows to the believing soul! It is at all times a consolation to him to remember that Jesus knows and searches the heart. His iniquity he sees and subdues; for the promise is, "He will subdue our iniquities." Micah vii. 19. He detects some lurking evil, some latent corruption, and before it develops itself in the outward departure, the overt act, he checks and conquers it. 'Cheering thought,' may the believer say, 'that all my inbred evil, the hidden corruption of my heart, is known to my Savior God. Lord, I would not hide it from you, I would not veil from your eye a single corruption- I would not conceal a thought; but would cry, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."' Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24. He sees, too, his own gracious work in the soul. The little spiritual life that he has breathed there- the little grace that he has implanted there- the little spark of love that he has kindled there- the faint and feeble longings after him- the inward strugglings with sin- the hungering and thirsting for holiness- the panting for divine conformity- all is known to Jesus. The Lord Jesus knows and recognizes his own work: the counterfeit he soon detects. The outward garb and the unhumbled spirit- the external profession and the unbroken heart, escape not his piercing glance. Man may be deceived- the Lord Jesus never. We may not be able to discern between the righteous and the wicked- between nature and grace between the outward profession and the inward reality; but Jesus knows what is genuine and what is base, what is the work of his own blessed Spirit, and what is the mere effect of an enlightened judgment, and an alarmed conscience. Dear reader, this is his own solemn declaration of himself- "I, the Lord, search the heart." Can you open all your heart to him? Can you admit him within its most secret places? Are you willing to have no concealments? Are you willing that he should search and prove it? O be honest with God!- keep nothing back- tell him all that you detect within you. He loves the full, honest disclosure: he delights in this confiding surrender of the whole heart. Are you honest in your desires that he might sanctify your heart, and subdue all its iniquity?- then confess all to him- tell him all. You would not conceal from your physician a single symptom of your disease, you would not hide any part of the wound; but you would, if anxious for a complete cure, disclose to him all. Be as honest with the Great Physician- the Physician of your soul. It is true he knows your case- it is true he anticipates every need; yet he will have, and delights in having, his child approach him with a full and honest disclosure. Let David's example encourage you: "I acknowledged my sin unto you, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin." Psalm xxxii. 5. And while the heart is thus pouring itself out in a full and minute confession, let the eye of faith be fixed on Christ. It is only in this posture that the soul shall be kept from despondency. Faith must rest itself upon the atoning blood. And O, in this posture, fully and freely, beloved reader, may you pour out your heart to God! Disclosures you dare not make to your tenderest friend, you may make to him: sins you would not confess, corruption you would not acknowledge as existing within you, you are privileged, thus "looking unto Jesus," to pour into the ear of your Father and God. And O, how the heart will become unburdened, and the conscience purified, and peace and joy flow into the soul by this opening of the heart to God! Try it, dear reader: let no consciousness of guilt keep you back; let no unbelieving suggestion of Satan, that such confessions are inappropriate for the ear of God, restrain you. Come at once- come now- rush to your Father's feet, and bringing in your hands the precious blood of Christ, make a full and free disclosure. Thus from the attribute of Christ's Omniscience, may a humble believer extract much consolation; at all times permitted to appeal to it, and say with Peter, "Lord, you know all things: you know that I love you."
OMNIPOTENCE is declared to belong to Jesus. Compare Psalm. xlv. 3: "Gird your sword upon your thigh, O most mighty." Rev. i. 8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Compare ver. 6, 7, of the same Psalm: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of your kingdom is a right scepter. You love righteousness and hate wickedness: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows." Heb. i. 8, 9, where the same words are quoted and applied to Christ. And let us glance at the authoritative manner with which he executes his mighty acts of grace. Mark his deportment. Was there anything that betrayed the consciousness of an inferior, the submission of a dependant, the weakness of a mortal, or the imperfection of a sinner?- did not the God shine through the man with majestic awe, when to the leper he said, "I will; be clean:"- to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth your hand:"- to the 'blind, "Receive your sight:"- to the dead, "I say unto you, Arise:"- and to the tumultuous waves, "Peace, be still?" Dear reader, are you an experimental believer in Jesus? then this Omnipotent Christ is wedded to your best interests. He is Omnipotent to save- Omnipotent to protect- Omnipotent to deliver- Omnipotent to subdue all your iniquities, to make you humble, holy, and obedient. All power resides in Him. "It pleased the Father that in Him"- in Him as the Mediator of his church- "all fulness should dwell." Not a corruption, but he is omnipotent to subdue it; not a temptation, but he is omnipotent to overcome it; not a foe, but he is omnipotent to conquer it; not a fear, but he is omnipotent to quell it. "All power," is his own consoling language, "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Could any mere creature assert this of himself? Never, without the deepest blasphemy. "Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of you."
From this view of the Divine attributes, let us pass to a consideration of THE DIVINE WORKS attributed to Christ, and such as no mere creature could perform.
The work of CREATION belongs to him. Col. i. 16,17: "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 consist." If then he is the Creator, he must be God. The glory of creation is given to him by the redeemed in heaven- "They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power, for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created." Rev. iv. 2. What a thought is this- that the great Creator of all things once trod, in human form, the world of his own creating!- for "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." John i. 1O. And so is he the author of the new spiritual creation. He spoke, and there was life, light, and order in the soul, where before there was death, darkness, and derangement. Let us give him the glory of both creations, the natural and the spiritual.
PROVIDENCE is another Divine work as truly belonging to Christ. Thus he says, Matt. xxviii. 18, "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." "He is Lord of all." Acts x. 36. "Lord both of the dead and the living." Rom. xiv. 9. "Christ is above all principality and power, might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Eph. i. 2O- 22. "Upholding all things by the word of his power." Heb. i. 2. "By him (Christ) all things are held together." Col. i. 17. "The prince of the kings of the earth." Rev. i. 5. Thus is it clear that Jesus is the God of providence. The government of all worlds and of all creatures, according to the prediction of prophecy, is upon his shoulders. Is not this thought full of rich comfort and consolation to the experienced believer? Jesus is the God of providence. All your steps, dear reader, if you are his, are ordered and directed by him- by him who is God in your nature by him who loved you unto the death- by him who is your Elder Brother, your Prophet, Priest, and King. O how tranquillizing to the soul in the hour of its deepest sorrow and bereavement, to know that it is sheltered in the hollow of those very hands which were once pierced for us! that Christ has blended with his mediatorial character his providential government! that the Redeemer who died to save, is the God who lives to sway the scepter! It has been well remarked, that Providence was intended to be the handmaid to Grace, but that Grace only can unfold the steps of Providence. It is only the experimental believer who can clearly discern the movements of an invisible hand in all the affairs and incidents of life. He has learned to acknowledge the Lord in all his ways, and to commit to his disposal all his steps. And he who thus guides and governs is the Mediator- the Christ who obeyed, suffered, and died in our behalf. O consoling thought! Christian reader, ponder this! What are your present circumstances? Are you persecuted for Jesus' sake?- Listen to his own cheering words, "Marvel not if the world hates you, for you know that it hated me before it hated you." "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Are you in circumstances of need? What does he say? "Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than clothing? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?" "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Are you perplexed to know the path of duty? longing to know the way the Lord would have you walk? This is his promise- "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you." "Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way." Are you sore pressed by temptation? See how the Holy Spirit would lead you to the sympathy and tenderness of Jesus- "He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to support those who are tempted." "For we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Are you oppressed by present or anticipated trials? Hearken again to his dear voice- "Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me." John xiv. 1. Whatever may be the dark and gloomy aspect of things around you, yet Jesus does all things well- and all things, however adverse, and apparently severe, yet all things are working for your present and ultimate good.
The last Divine work belonging to Christ to which we allude, is that of JUDGING the world. This, the most skeptical will acknowledge, peculiarly belongs to God. In Eccles. xii. 14, we read, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." Now it is most clear, that Christ shall be the Judge. For so we read- "We must all stand before the judgment- seat of Christ." "He shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing." "The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son." John v. 22. Could this office be filled, and this power exercised, by a mere creature? Are not Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence indispensably necessary to qualify the judge of all, for the high office? We have shown that Christ is fully invested with all these qualifications- that he is fully qualified to sit in judgment at his second coming, upon the beings whom he created. The Redeemer of men then will be the Judge of men. He who once appeared in the mild and gentle character of a Savior, will then appear in the glorious form of a judge. Men will not then question his Godhead- men will not then dispute his Deity- but "to Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." To the believer in Jesus, what a transporting thought is this- that his Savior shall be his Judge; that in the face of him who shall sit upon the great white throne- before him gathered for judgment all nations, he will recognize a Friend- a Brother- a Redeemer- an Advocate. Dear reader, have you an Advocate with the Father? What is your foundation in view of that solemn day? A professor of Christ you may be; but is his blood and righteousness at the root of that profession? Are you building, as a poor, empty, condemned sinner- disclaiming all merit, all self- righteousness, all works- upon a crucified Savior? What know you of the broken heart- of the contrite spirit? What know you of the precious blood of Christ? O examine yourself, be affectionately entreated; for in the day when Christ shall judge the world in righteousness all mere outward profession, all notional religion, will wither away, and if you are found destitute of a better righteousness than your own, even the finished righteousness of Christ, how appalling will be the consequences!
We have now arrived at the last source of argument in proof of our Lord's absolute Deity, and that is, the DIVINE WORSHIP which belongs to him. We feel this to be strong ground. It will be acknowledged that one end of revelation was to expel from the world polytheism and idolatry, by teaching that God, and God only, was to receive the adoration and worship of men. Now if it can be shown by a reference to the simple declaration of God's Word, that the Lord Jesus received and encouraged the adoration and worship due only to proper Deity, then most triumphantly shall we have established this glorious doctrine of the gospel, that Christ is God. The reader will bear in mind that solemn command of Jehovah, recorded in Exod. xx. 3: "You shall have no other gods before me." Let him then turn to Heb. i. 6: "And again, when he brings in the first- begotten into the world, he says, And let all the angels of God worship him." What can be more conclusive? Here, in ushering into the world his only begotten Son, the Father claims for him the adoration and worship belonging exclusively to Deity. Would he have so contradicted himself; trampled upon his own law, had not Christ been co-equal with himself? Never! Yet further: if Christ had been a mere man, why did he not check those people who, when he was on earth, presented to him divine homage? We find that Paul and Barnabas refused the worship that was offered them as divine. When Cornelius would have worshiped Peter, he said, "Stand up, for I myself also am a man." And when John, in the Apocalypse, mistook a celestial messenger for a divine being, and would have worshiped him, the angel immediately abjured the homage and said, "See you do it not: for I am of your fellow servants the apostles .... worship God." And yet Jesus refused not, but rather encouraged divine homage when he tabernacled in the flesh. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," was the exclamation of Peter, when he caught a sudden glimpse of the Godhead of Jesus, reminding us of an equivalent expression of the prophet Isaiah, "Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, for mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts." Isa. vi. 5. And what was the last act of the disciples, as they saw the sacred form of their Lord ascending and lessening from their view? It was a solemn act of worship; we read that "they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Luke xxiv. 52.
Having followed us through this mass of scriptural evidence in favor of Christ's proper Deity, the reader will now be prepared to pass to the INFERENCE which is fairly deducible from the doctrine, that is, THAT THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST IS OF INFINITE VALUE AND EFFICACY. Let the remark already made be borne in mind, that if Christ were a mere creature, if he claimed no higher dignity than Gabriel, or one of the prophets or apostles, then his atonement, as it regards the satisfaction of Divine justice, the honoring of the law, the pardon of sin, the peace of the conscience, and the salvation of the soul, would possess no intrinsic efficacy whatever. It would be but the atonement of a finite being, a being possessing no superior merit to those in whose behalf the atonement was made. We state it then broadly and unequivocally, that the entire glory, dignity, value, and efficacy of Christ's precious blood which he shed for sin, rests entirely upon the Deity of his person. If the Deity of Christ sinks, the atonement of Christ sinks with it; if the one stands, so stands the other. How strong are the words of Paul, addressed to the Ephesian elders!- "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood." Acts xx. 28. How conclusive to the question before us is this testimony! The blood that purchased the church was Divine. It was indeed the blood of Christ's humanity- for his human nature alone could suffer, bleed, and die- yet deriving all its glory, value, and efficacy from the union of the human with the Divine nature. It was the blood of the God-man, Jehovah Jesus; no inferior blood could have sufficed. The law which Adam, our federal head, broke, before it could release the sinner from its penalty, demanded a sacrifice infinitely holy, and infinity great: one equal with the Father- the dignity of whose person would impart infinite merit to his work, and the infinite merit of whose work would fully sustain its honor and its purity. All this was found in the person of Christ. In his complex person he was eminently fitted for the mighty work. As God, he obeyed the precepts and maintained the honor of the law; as man, he bore its curse and endured its penalty. It was the blending as into one, these two natures; the bringing together these extremes of being, the finite and the infinite, which shed such resplendent luster on his atonement, which stamped such worth and efficacy on his blood. No subject discussed in these pages claims such vast importance as this. I beseech the reader, treat it not lightly; deem it not a useless speculation; it is of the deepest moment. If the blood of Christ possess not infinite merit, infinite worth, it could never be efficacious in washing away the guilt of sin, or in removing the dread of condemnation. When you come to die, this, of all truths, if you are an experimental believer, will be the most precious and sustaining. In that solemn hour, when the curtain that conceals the future parts, and eternity lets down upon the view the full blaze of its awful realities, in that hour, when all false dependences will crumble beneath you, and sin's long catalogue passes in review before you- O then to know that the Savior on whom you depend is God in your nature- that the blood in which you have washed has in it all the efficacy and value of Deity, this, this will be the alone plank that will buoy up the soul in that awful moment, and at that fearful crisis. The author lately saw one die; and his testimony to the sustaining power of Christ's Deity in that moment was given in these words- "If Christ was not my Creator, what could I do now?" O precious truth this, for a poor believing soul to rest upon! We wonder not that "he, who has Jesus, is safe even amid the perils of the sea." We wonder not that, fast anchored on this truth, amid circumstances the most appalling, death in view, wearing its most terrific aspect, the believer in Jesus can survey the scene with composure, and quietly yield his spirit into the hands of Him who redeemed it.