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(The Rev. C. Benson's Sermon concluded.) It is clear, then, that even in the | rent characters and combinations of most ordinary cases, we may meet with circumstances. To such a being, so various and apparently contradictory varying in states, characters, and cirexpressions. We may find them ap- cumstances, language the most diverplied to the same individual, and yet sified may be applied. When spoken these expressions may be admitted in of in his character as a native prince, the most literal meaning, and require the heir by birth-right of the throne, no figure to reconcile them to each he would be described as the equal of other, and explain them to our mind. his father both in nature and in attriIt is possible, therefore, I say, that butes. When spoken of as a messenthe same method may be applied to ger, sent forth on a laborious but merthose difficulties attending the mani- ciful service, he would be described as fold representations which are given of the servant of his father, possessing no the Redeemer of mankind.
power but what he had received, deBut this is not all—we may approach claring no terms but those he had still nearer to the satisfaction of our derived from the paternal source. The doubts. We may imagine a case, even | leading tenor of the expressions applied on earth, which would admit of the to him when in his second state, would literal use of varieties of expression of describe him as speaking by the authothe very same extent, and of the very rity of another, and as acting in consame nature, as those which are adopted formity to his father's will. Lastly, with regard to our blessed Lord. We with regard to his return to his father, may suppose the son of a king, mature and his being restored to the dominion in age and strength, the equal of his / he had resigned, it would occur that father touching his nature, and the his power would be described as a comsharer, too, of his government. We municated power, and his kingdom may imagine this prince as giving up would be described as a kingdom he the glories of his state, and consenting had received in consequence of what to be sent to the different and laborious task of bringing back to their allegiance To say that either in this, or that the inhabitants of some distant and in any other imaginable case, we can revolted province. For a time the find a perfect resemblance to the prince would cease to be described as great and mysterious changes to which the equal of his father; and all that the Son of God has, in the greathe did under the commission he hadness of his mercy, submitted for the received would be done for his father's salvation of us miserable sinners, is bonour, and in his father's name. We more than any man, who is duly immay finally suppose that prince to re- pressed with the sacredness of the subturn to his father's house, after having ject, would dare. But this much, at fulfilled the purposes for which he was least, the example may be employed to sent, to be rewarded, as the saviour of prove, that there may be circumstances those rebellious subjects, with the glory connected with the history of our and the dignity, and the authority blesssed Saviour, which would remove which he had, for their sakes, for a every difficulty connected with those season laid aside.
representations, however various and In an instance like this we should however different. We may enquire, have one individual appearing in three therefore, into the actual history of different states, and under three diffe- our Lord as it has been revealed ; and
we must see whether it does, or does he humbled himself, and became obenot, afford any satisfactory explanation dient unto death, even the death of the of these dissimilar texts; and whether cross. Wherefore God also hath highly it will, or will not, enable us to interpret exalted him, and given him a name each passage in its literal sense, per- which is above every name; that at ceiving in what manner we are to un- the name of Jesus every knee should derstand the blessed Jesus to be at bow, of things in heaven, and things once divine and human—at once equal in earth, and things under the earth; and subordinate to God-at once enti- and that every tongue should confess tled to an inherent, and possessed of a that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory delegated authority over the universe. of God the Father.”
It is for this purpose I would now Compare now this comprehensive direct your attention to the import description of St. Paul, and behold of the words of the text, as convey- with what accuracy in every point it ing a brief, but distinct, outline of his corresponds with, and explains, those history, and as revealing to us that diversified statements which we have there are no less than three separate so often reviewed. Our Saviour deconditions of being, into which he has clares himself to have dwelt with the passed for the accomplishment of our Father before he came into the world : redemption. “I came forth from the the apostle tells us that when he dwelt Father, and am come into the world : | with the Father, he was in the form of again, I leave the world, and go unto God, and might have claimed equality the Father."
with God. Here, then, is a state to He came forth from the Father : which every representation in which therefore he was with the Father before he is adorned with the powers and the period in which it is stated he came attributes of Deity, may, with the forth. This existence with the Father greatest ease, and with the most literal is, consequently, to be regarded as the strictness, be applied. Our Lord profirst state of being to which he belong-ceeds to tell us, that when he left the ed. Coming forth from the Father, he Father he came into the world : St. came into the world. His sojourning Paul affords us the additional knowin this our earth is therefore the second ledge that, when he came to the world, state of being, into which he is consi. he made himself of no reputation, took dered as having passed. Lastly, leav upon him the form of a servant, and ing the world, he went back to the Fa- was found in the likeness of men. At ther; and this his return to the mana once, therefore, we perceive that, whatsions of his paternal house is the third ever may have been his former dignity, and last state of being, with which we whatever his original glory while he are acquainted, in which he is to be was with God and was God, yet, when contemplated.
he descended into the second, and more Now, not only are we taught to look complicated state of his existence, he upon our Lord as having existed in assumed a character of subordination three different states, to which these and inferiority; which leaves no doubt different representations may possibly as to the propriety or the meaning of refer; but St. Paul has described the na- those expressions, which speak of him ture of those states in a manner that at as acting by the Father's power, teachonce removes every difficulty from the ing by the Father's will, endued with subject, and has given a plain, and his Spirit, and submitting to his wisclear, and satisfactory reason, for those dom. · He was then in the form of a diversified statements, which have per- servant, whose office it is to obey ; and plexed us in the New Testament. in the likeness of man, whose infirmi. * Let this mind,” says the great apos- ties were entailed upon him. Finally, tle of the Gentiles, “ be in you which our Lord says, he was to leave the was also in Christ Jesus; who, being world, and return to the Father; and in the form of God, thought it not we celebrate this day his return to robbery to be equal with God; but heaven : his apostle teaches us that he made himself of no reputation, and has so returned, and that in his return took upon him the form of a servant, he has been highly exalted by God, and was made in the likeness of men ; , and that there has been given him a and being found in fashion as a man, name, which is above every name.
Here, then, we discover the true foun- | Scriptures, as I trust, with sincerity dation, here we may be persuaded of and truth, so far as I can see, the the literal explanation of those pas- expressions which relate to the divine sages which attribute to him those nature of the Saviour of mankind are, different states of being, and which are at least, equal to those which refer to given to him in his combined and com- his equality and his inferiority to the pound character, the word made flesh, | Father. His inherent and his deleat once divine and human, the name of gated authority over the whole uniJesus ruling over all the provinces of verse are declared in terms so positive, the universe.
that it is impossible to explain any of Such is the answer which the Scrip them away, without violating every tures afford to us of the subject pro ordinary rule, without destroying all posed; such the method of reconcilia certainty of language, and all depention which they direct us to pursue, in dance on the revelation of the New harmonizing the difference of those re Testament. It is declared, with unpresentations which the apostles have equalled clearness, that he was with given regarding the blessed Jesus. If I God, and was God, the God that made turn to the perverter of truth for a so- | the universe, and that upholdeth all lation of the enquiry, he tells me it is things by the word of his power: and impossible to admit the obvious mean I know my God under no other chaing of all the statements, and therefore, racter than that which is revealed in there must be one class only that may the Scriptures. If he is described as be literally explained, and that all the highly exalted by the Father, and as rest are to be explained away. He crowned with glory and honour; he is calls upon me to observe, that the as plainly described as that God whose passages in which Jesus is distinguished throne is for ever and ever, as the Lord from God, seem to express their sense who is worthy to receive glory, and of his inferiority, and that therefore he honour, and power,—not because they is justified in moderating and restrain- were given to him, but as he created ing every word and declaration that all things, and because for his pleasure appears to have admitted the Lord they are and were created. It is imJesus to the power and office of the possible to discover any difference in Eternal and Supreme God. Con the clearness of these phrases ; to the fessing the humanity of the Saviour, mind of every unprejudiced reader they because it is so clearly revealed that he would appear in harmony and union; cannot controvert it, the Unitarian de and to turn them from their true nanies him every attribute of divinity, ture, and to give them a new interpreand deems it an honest act to destroy tation, is what no Christian ought to the certainty, and violate all the prin wish, and what no Christian ought to ciples of his interpretation, in order do. We are not justified in presuming that he may be enabled to make the that one class of texts alone are to be language of Scripture bear testimony | naturally explained, and the rest to be to his particular views; while he for-modelled into conformity with the gets the uncertainty which attends | views that this single class present to even his mode of interpretation. For, our minds. We are bound by every . why may not I say that the language | rule of prudence and justice to see, which calls my Saviour divine is so first of all, whether the whole may not strong, that I will at once admit him to be literally taken—whether there are be really a God, and deny his huma- not, in the nature of the case, some nity altogether? Uncertainty, there- particular and admitted circumstances fore, must attend such a method of which, at once, remove the necessity of interpretation and such an endeavour introducing any figurative interpretato reconcile those passages.
tion at all. If the human inferiority in our Lord This is an essential and preliminary were declared in numerous texts, while enquiry, and one to which, when we those which maintain his divinity were turn, we find the scriptures have given few, doubtful, and obscure; then it a clear and satisfactory answer. They might be necessary to give way, and give us no less than three representaexplain what was dubious by what tions of the Redeemer of men ; but was decisive. But looking at the then they set before us no less than
three separate states of existence to ac- to admit it to be the true key to the count for these three representations. solution. But when I remember that These representations differ materially those who have written these things from each other, and are opposed to had the Spirit of God to lead them into each other, to a man who will create | all truth-that it is to the apostles of difficulties with a careless and pre-Christ Jesus, acting under and orsumptuous mind, that will not enquire dained by him, that we are indebted diligently and search the scriptures for for this explanation, I turn away from an answer. But then they tell us, every vain and idle imagination of also, that the states through which the philosophy, and rest with confidence Saviour has passed wero varied in the upon the word of the Lord. The persame manner, and in the same degree, verter of truth, brought up and nurwith the representations : and thus the tured in an unhappy determination to difficulty vanishes and doubt is re- regard the dictates of his own mind moved. If the Lord Jesus is spoken and experience as the only criterion of of as clothed with greatness and glory, religious truth, may deny the heavenly he is also described as having been di- nature of his Saviour, because it is a vine from eternity God before a single fact which it falls not within the reach world had been called into existence. of his capacity to prove. But so long If he is spoken of as being clothed with as I am taught by the Lord himself, the infirmities of the flesh, and in sub that he came forth from the Father, jection to his Father; he is described and came into the world, and that he also as having taken upon him the has left the world to return unto the form of a servant, and dwelt among Father, and so long as I can read the us in the likeness of men. If he is commentary of his words in the epistle spoken of as having received a name of St. Paul, I yield up my faith in his that is above every name, we read also, Divinity to no human reasoning or and we believe, that, because he hum-authority, but stay myself upon the bled himself, he has been exalted to the power of his God-head, upon the great same place and power from which he kindness of his humiliation, upon his came out, and is crowned with glory continued presence in his Father's and honour because he suffered death sight to plead for my infirmities, for our sins. Thus the representations both of mind and moral action; and and the circumstances of the blessed hold fast the profession of my faith, Jesus are seen to correspond, most without wavering, knowing that he is, strictly, with each other, both in their faithful who has promised; trusting number and in their nature.
that it is not in pride, but in humility, Had such a correspondence been and in entire dependence on God's found in the pages of some human re- Spirit, that I have sought for and cord, I should have felt myself bound I found this solution to my enquiry.
A Sermon DELIVERED BY THE REV. B. LEACH, AT ROBERT STREET CHAPEL, GROSVENOR SQUARE, SUNDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 5, 1830.
Isaiah, xlvi. 4. Even to your old age I am he; and even to hour hairs will I carry
· you : I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." It is one of the peculiar excellencies of mises, and illumines us by its instructhe religion of the Bible, that it is tions. But of all the successive stages adapted to all ages of the world, to all of our earthly pilgrimage through periods of life, and to every situation which we pass, from our cradle to our in society: whether we are young or tomb, there is no season which is so old, rich or poor, male or female, no- entitled to our respectful regard as the ble or ignoble, masters or servants, period of old age. It is then, my bond'or free, it cheers us by its pro brethren, that the earthly house of this
tabernacle totters upon its base: it is wonderful in counsel, excellent in then that the pilgrim, well stricken working, whose mercies are over all in years, has almost finished his career his works. Yes; he is the King eterin his journey to everlasting rest, nal, immortal, invisible, infinite in whilst nature puts on her silver crown. wisdom, in power, in goodness, in
But whatever may be the decrepis faithfulness, and in truth-whom to tude and weakness attendant upon know is life everlasting. Such is the such an advanced period, we should Almighty and Everlasting Jehovah never forget that the religion of our who addresses his aged servants in Lord Jesus is, in the benefits which it the language of the text. imparts, both constant and abiding, Look at him, then, as possessing all and comes to our aid when it is most you can possibly require. Are you required. What is more common guilty ? He is a God ready to pardon ; than for the world to leave and forsake he is willing to dispense his favors. us when our day's work is done, and Who is a God like unto him, that our strength is exhausted, and our pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the property is gone, and our energies transgressions of the remnant of his have all declined thereby verifying heritage-who retaineth not his anger the common adage that Prosperity for ever, because he delighteth in makes friends, but adversity tries them. mercy? Do you, my aged friends, Not so, however, are the consolations feel your need of instruction? “ They of the gospel of peace : qur Lord shall be all taught of God :"? and Jesus, its benevolent author, is 'a when he deigns to become our teacher, friend who sticketh closer than a there is no mind too dark for him to brother: where the world leaves us, illumine by the beams of heavenly he comes forward and takes us by the wisdom. Do you mourn your want of hand. He is a brother born for ad. native perfection? Do you feel and versity and the faithfulness of a co deplore your guilt and defilement by renant God has not been, and cannot reason of the fall? He is the great possibly be exhausted.
sanctifier : he can take from you the Among a variety of evidence that guilt and the love, and deliver you might be adduced in support of this from the power of sin. Do you feel opinion, we appeal at once to the pas- , your weakness? He is strength. Do sage before us. These words are ad. you want a friend? He is a friend dressed to you, my aged friends. We that sticketh closer than a brother : have sometimes gladly availed our- for he is strength to the poor, strength selves of an opportunity of preaching to the needy in his distresses-a reto children-at other times to our es fuge from the storm, a shadow from teemed young friends : but this even- | the heat. Do you want to be happy? ing we have the more aged, the more He alone can make you so : the great advanced part of our auditory in view. principles and ingredients of happiness, To you, then, the faithful God says, in this world and in that which is to "Even to your old age I am he; and come, are all in the hands of the Lord. even to your hoar hairs will I carry Allow me to remind you, secondly, you: I have made, and will bear; even WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR YOU AS his I will carry, and will deliver you.”
PEOPLE. He has made you, says the Here you learn in the first place, text. This fact places him before us in What God is in himself. Secondly, a very endearing relation. He is our What he has done for those who are Father, all merciful, affectionate, and his people. Thirdly, What he en kind--not only the former of our gages still to do.
earthly nature, but the Father of our First, the text intimates What God spirits, in whom we live, and move, IS IN HIMSELF. “I am he"-the in- / and have our being. In making us, finite, eternal, unchangeable creator, how much wisdom, and power, and preserver, and governor of all creatures, goodness has he displayed. With of all worlds, of all events, God over David must we be constrained to say, all, and blessed for ever, the Most from what little we know of the me. High over all the earth-very great, chanism of our existence, “ I am fearclothed with honour and majesty, from fully and wonderfully made.” Only everlasting to everlasting the same, look at the body—that very body which,