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6 was taken up into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as the holy Apostles saw him go into heaven,” viz. when he shall come “ with the clouds of heaven;" when “the judgment shall be set, and the books opened, and all people, and nations, and languages, shall serve the Son of Man."4 For “ He must reign" as Messiah, as the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King, till he hath completed the purpose for which he vouchsafed to assume that peculiar character; “ till he hath put all enemies under his feet,"5 and till “ every tongue,” as well of his abased foes, as of his exalted subjects, “shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
To endeavour to fill up from Scripture this ample outline; by producing to view the several circumstances of the History of Man's Redemption, which, in its full extent, comprehends the whole of revealed religion; and so producing them, as not to destroy their native force and efficacy, “ for the use of edifying;"--such, my brethren, are the arduous duties of the office upon which I this day enter, not without a deep sense of awful responsibility, and a humble consciousness of my own unworthiness and
2 Acts i. 11.
4 Ib. 10, 14.
3 Dan. vii. 13.
insufficiency. But, praised be God, the fruit of our labours does not depend upon our own exertions alone. Our blessed Lord, before his ascension, thus encouraged the chosen “witnesses and ministers of the Word,”—“ All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”6 This pro-' mise of being present with them, in teaching all nations, even to the end of the world, cannot be confined to the 5 eye-witnesses” to whom it was immediately addressed, but must extend to the whole succession of Christ's teachers, then represented by the Apostles ; that is, to all those who, by an authority derived from the Apostles, are commissioned to preach the Gospel in any place, at any period of the world. Encouraged, therefore, by the promise of Divine support, I do not faint under the burden imposed upon me; but enter on the duties of this sacred office with a well-founded confidence, that He, who has given me grace at their com
6 Matt. xxviii. 18—20.
mencement to rely on His promised aid, will preserve me in their progress from all serious error, and enable me to be an instrument of good to some before the close of my ministerial labours in this place.
For the improvement of the present occasion, I implore the especial guidance of the Spirit of Truth, and bespeak your most serious attention to the subject, while I endeavour briefly to set before you the mysterious, but vitally important doctrines of Holy Scripture, relating to the personal nature of our Redeemer, in the three different states in which he is presented to us in the Text, viz.
I. In his eternal state of supreme Power and Glory, “ being in the form of God,” and “ equal with God.”
II. In his state of voluntary Humiliation, when “ he took upon himself the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
III. In his state of Exaltation, the consequence and reward of that humiliation. 6 Wherefore God
also hath 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.”
It is impossible to give a true, however inadequate, representation of the Messiah in this threefold state, without suggesting many powerful persuasives to lead a Godly and a Christian life ; but the application I have most in view at present, is that of St. Paul in the context; viz. to recommend, by the example of Christ Jesus, the true Christian temper of humility.—“ Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”_ Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves."7
First, then, we are led by our Text to consider Christ as perfect God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Whence the necessary inference is, that he was God; for it would be the most impious and audacious robbery for any one else to pretend to be equal with God. The Socinians, of course, deny this inference, and sometimes propose different translations; but it is as unnecessary, as it would be unedifying, to expose the fallacy of their arguments, or the falsehood of their versions. (A) The doctrine of Christ's Divinity is so interwoven with the whole texture of revelation, that it surpasses the power of the most audacious mis-translation to disguise, and of the most ingenious sophistry to explain away, all the passages by which it may be proved. When a person of plain common sense reads, for example, that Jesus not only accepted the title, “my Lord and my God,”8 which was addressed to him by St. Thomas; but pronounced a blessing upon all who should have the same belief, without having seen the same proofs of his Divinity: When he reads that “ the Word (who was made flesh and dwelt among us”) was in the beginning with God, and was God;"9 or that “ God was manifest in the flesh :”? When, I say, an unbiassed person of plain common sense reads such passages as these, (and many such must be found in every book that has the most remote pretensions to be called a translation of the Scriptures,) it surpasses the power of the most refining
7 Philipp. ii. 3.