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ed afterwards; for we cannot with reason conceive of any new determinations arising in the mind of the infinite God; to whom what we call the past and the future are equally present. In this sense (if the expression be proper to convey such a sense) I can conceive that it was the begotten Son of God from eternity; that is, set up and appointed for eternity for the office, nature, and work by which, in the fulness of time, he was manifested to men. But if the terms, begotten, or eternal generation, be used to denote the manner of his eternal existence in Deity, I must be silent. I believe him to be the eternal Son; I believe him to be the eternal God; and I wish not to exercise my thoughts and inquiries more than is needful, in things that are too high for me.
The Scripture, in different places, evidently applies the purport of this phrase, 'I have begotten thee,' to transactions which took place in time, This Day, and particularly to two principal
1. His incarnation. Thus the angel to Mary, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, the holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." So the apostle, 'In the fullness of time God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.'† And in the passage we are next to consider; When he bringeth his first begotten into the world, he saith. And let all the angels of God worship him.'
2. His resurrection. To this purpose our text is quoted from the second Psalm. 'The promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same to their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again ;'‡ as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' And in another place he teaches us, that he who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.'§
After all, I would remind you, that the best knowledge of the doctrine of the person of Christ, that which affords life and comfort to the soul, is to be obtained, not so much by inquiry and study on our part, as by a gracious manifestation on his part. Prayer, attention to the great Teacher, a humble perusal of the Scripture, and a course of simple obedience to his known will. are the methods which he has prescribed for our growth in grace, and in the knowledge of himself. Thus even babes are made wise; while they who are wise and prudent in their own sight, the more they endeavour to investigate and ascertain the sense of
* Luke, i. 35. + Gal. iv. 4. Acts, xiii. 32, 33.
Rom. i. 4.
Scripture, are frequently involved more and more in perplexity. He has given a promise and direction, for the encouragement of those who sincerely seek him: He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.'*
This is he with whom we have to do. In and by this Son of his love, we have access by faith unto God. Unworthy and helpless in ourselves, from hence we derive our plea; here we find a refuge; and on this we rest, and build our hope, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son ;' who is so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance ob tained a more excellent name than they.'†
MESSIAH WORSHIPPED BY ANGELS.
HEBREWS, i. 6.
Let all the angels of God worship him.
MANY of the Lord's true servants have been in a situation so nearly similar to that of Elijah, that, like him, they have been tempted to think they were left to serve him alone. But God had then a faithful people, and he has so in every age. The preaching of the Gospel may be compared to a standard erected, to which they repair, and thereby become known to each other, and more exposed to the notice and observation of the world. But we hope there are always many, who are enlightened by his word and Holy Spirit, and training up in the life of faith and holiness, known and dear to God, though they have little advantage from public ordinances, and perhaps no opportunity of conversing with those who are like-minded with themselves. But even though the number of those who visibly profess the Gospel of the grace of God were much smaller than it is, we need not be disheartened. If our sight could pierce into the invisible world, we should be satisfied that there are more with us than against us. And such a power is attributed to faith. It is the evidence
John, xiv. 21. + Heb. i. 4. VOL. III.
1 Kings, xix. 10.
2 Kings, vi. 16.
of things not seen,* because, it receives the testimony of Scripture, and rests upon it, as a certainty, and a demonstration; requiring no other proof, either of doctrines or facts, than that they are contained in the sure word of God. True Christians, therefore, are comforted by the assurance they have that their Saviour, the Lord of their hearts, is not so neglected and despised, nor his character so misunderstood and misrepresented in yonder land of light, as in this dark and degenerate world. Though too many here, like Festus, treat it as a matter of great indifference whether Jesus be dead or alive,† and ask them with a taunt, What is your Beloved more than another beloved? they are not ashamed, for they know whom they have believed; and if men will not join with them in admiring and praising him, they are sure that they have the concurrence of far superior beings. By faith they behold him seated upon a throne of glory, adored by all holy and happy intelligent creatures, whether angels, principalities, powers, or dominions. And when he was upon earth, in a state of humiliation, though despised and rejected of men, he was seen and acknowledged by angels. Their warrant and ours is the same. He is proposed to us as the object of our supreme love and dependence; and as we are enjoined to kiss the Son and to pay him homage, so when God brought him into the world, he said, 'Let all the angels of God worship him.'
Though the bringing MESSIAH, the first or only begotten, into the world, may, as I have observed already, be applied to his incarnation, or to his resurrection, 1 apprehend it rather designs the whole of his exhibition in the flesh. At his ascension, having finished the work appointed for him to do, he was solemnly invested with authority and glory, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But in his lowest, no less than in his exalted state, the dignity of his divine person is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. He was always the proper object of worship. It was agreeable to right, and to the nature of things, and a command worthy of God, that all the angels of God should worship him.
The holy angels that excel in strength, always do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word. We might be certain, therefore, that this highest and most comprehensive command a creature is capable of receiving from his Creator, is fulfilled by them, even if we had no express information of the fact. But we have repeated assurances to this purpose. Thus Isaiah, when he saw his glory and spake of him, saw the seraphim standing; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his Psalm ciii. 20.
*Heb. xi. 1.
Acts, xxv. 19.
face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.'* I see not how the force of the argument is arising from this passage, to prove that MESSIAH is the proper object of the most solemn adoration which creatures can offer to the Most High, can be evaded; unless any were hardy enough to assert, either that the prophet was himself imposed upon us, by a false vision; or else, that the apostle John was mistaken when he applied this representation to Jesus Christ. But the apostle likewise had a vision to the same effect; in which, while his people, redeemed from the earth by his blood, cast their crowns at his feet, the angels were also represented as joining in the chorus of their praises, saying with a loud voice, Worthy the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.' In brief, he is the Lord of angels. The heavenly host waited upon him, and sung his praises at his birth. Angels ministered unto him in the wilderness. And they are so entirely his servants, that at his command they are sent forth to minister unto, and to attend upon, his believing people Are they not all ministering' [roupyixa, worshipping] spirits,' adoring the divine Majesty, yet sent forth to minister' [sis diaxoviau, to the service] to the heirs of salvation?' He is likewise the head of angels, though they are not in the same near relation to him as the sinners whom he has redeemed with his blood; for he took on him their nature. There was no redemption appointed for the angels who kept not their first habitation. But the confirmation of those who continue in holiness and happiness, is in and through him. For all things both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, are gathered together in one' [avaxɛqaλaiwσaodai, reduced under one head into one body] in him.' And they are therefore styled, in contradistinction from the others, The elect angels.** He is their life, and strength, and joy, as he is ours, though they cannot sing the whole song of his people. It is appropriate to the saved from among men to say, This God shines glorious in our nature; he loved us, and gave himself for us.
Here, then, as I have intimated, is a pattern and encourage-. ment for us. The angels, the whole host of heaven, worship him. He is Lord of all. We in this distant world have heard the report of his glory, have felt our need of such a Saviour, and are, in some degree, witnesses and proofs of his ability and wil
* Isa. vi. Heb. i. 14.
+ John, xii. 41.
Rev. v. 12. ** 1 Tim. v. 21.
Luke, ii. 13, 14.
lingness to save. He lived, he died, he arose, he reigns for us. Therefore, humbly depending upon his promised grace, without which we can do nothing, we are resolved, that whatever others do, we must, we will, worship him with the utmost powers of our souls. It is our determination and our choice, not only to praise and honour him with our lips, but to devote ourselves to his service, to yield ourselves to his disposal, to intrust our all to his care, and to place our whole happiness in his favour. I hope, in speaking thus, I speak the language of many of your hearts.
Some reflections easily offer from this subject, with which I shall close it.
1. They who love him may rejoice in the thoughts of his glory. They have deeply sympathized with him, when reading the history of his humiliation and passion. It has not been a light concern to them, that he endured agonies, that he was rejected, reviled, scourged, and slain. He who suffered these things was their best friend, their beloved Lord, and he suffered for their sakes. In the glass of his word, and by the light of his holy Spirit, he has been set forth as crucified before their eyes; and they have been crucified with him, and have had fellowship with him in his death. From hence they derive their indignation against sin, and their indifference to the world, which treated him thus. But now he is no more a man of sorrows his head, which was once crowned with thorns, is now crowned with glory; his face, which was defiled with spittle, shines like the sun; his hands which were manacled, wield the sceptre of universal government; and, instead of being surrounded by insulting men, he is now encircled by adoring angels. Therefore they rejoice with joy unspeakable, expecting soon to see him as he is, and to be with him for ever, according to the gracious promises he has made them, and the tenour of his prevailing intercession for them.
2. What an honour does his exaltation and glory reflect upon his faithful followers? The world that rejected him pays little regard to them; they are slighted, or scorned, or pitied; and in proportion as they manifested his spirit, experience a degree of the treatment which he met with; they are accounted visionaries or hypocrites; many of them are great sufferers; and few of them, comparatively, are distinguished among men by abilities, influence, or wealth; they are pilgrims and strangers upon earth; yet this God is their God. He who is worshipped by angels is not ashamed to call them brethren.* They are nearly related to him who sitteth upon the throne; and he is pleased to account them his portion and his jewels. It doth not yet appear what they
* Heb. ii. 11.