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THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Rev. v. 11, 12, 13, 14.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures,* and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousand 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.
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 sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and
And the four living creatures said, Amen. elders fell down, and worshipped him that
And the four and twenty
LTHOUGH Atheism and Superstition are weapons, which have been too successfully employed by the devil against the truth, yet are they not his most formidable arms, nor the most difficult to be resisted. It was an excess of stupidity, which formed superstition; and it was an excess of corruption, that forged atheism but a very little knowledge, and a very little integrity sufficiently preserve us from both. Superstition is so
* Beasts, in our translation.-Animaux-animals-living tures; more agreeably to the apostle's Zaa, as well as to Ezek. i. 4, 5, &c. to which St. John seems to allude. Ka sidor, nat iday εν τω μετά ως ομοίωμα τεσσαρων ΖΩΩΝ, Septuag
diametrically opposite to reason, that one is shocked at seeing earth, water, fire, air, minerals, passions, maladies, death, men, beasts, devils themselves placed by idolaters on the throne of the sovereign, and elevated to supreme honors. Far from feeling a propensity to imitate a conduct so monstrous, we should hardly believe it, were it not attested by the unanimous testimonies of historians and travellers; did we not still see in the monuments of antiquity, such altars, such deities, such worshippers; and did not the christian world, in an age of light and knowledge, madly prove too faithful a guarantee of what animated the heathen world, in ages of darkness and ignorance. The system of atheism is so loose, and its consequences so dreadful and odious, that only such as are determined to lose themselves can be lost in this way. Whether a Creator exist is a question decided, wherever there is a creature. Without us, within us, in our souls, in our bodies, every where, we meet with proofs of a first cause. An infinite being follows us, and surrounds us; O Lord, thou compassest my path, and my lying down, thou hast beset me behind and before. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence Psal. cxxxix. 1, 3, 7.
But there is another class of arguments against our mysteries, which at first present themselves to the mind under a very different aspect. There is a system of error, which, far from appearing to have ignorance for its principle like superstition, or corruption like atheism, seems to proceed from the bosom of truth and virtue, and if I may be allowed to say so, to have been extracted from the very substance of reason and religion. I speak of that system, which tends to degrade the Saviour of the world from his divinity, and to rank him with sim
ple creatures. There is in appearance a distance so immense, between an infant born in a stable, and the Father of Eternity, Isa. ix. 6. between that Jesus, who conversed with men, and that God, who upholds all things by the word of his power, Heb. i. 3. between him, who being crucified, expired on a cross, and him, who, sitting on the sovereign throne, receives supreme honors: that it is not at all astonishing, if human reason judge these objects in appearance contradictory. This system seems also founded on virtue, even on the most noble and transcendent virtue, on zeal and fervency. It aims in appearance at supporting those excellencies, of which God is most jealous, his divinity, his unity, his essence, It aims at pre-. venting idolatry. Accordingly, they, who defend this system, profess to follow the most illustrious scripture-models. They are the Phineasses, and Eleazars, who draw their swords only to maintain the glory of Jehovah. They are the Pauls, whose spirits are stirred by seeing the idolatry of Athens, Acts xvii. 16. They are the Elijahs, who are moved with jealousy for the Lord of hosts, 1 Kings 19, 10.
But, if the partisans of error are so zealous and fervent, should the ministers of the truth languish in luke-warmness and indolence? If the divinity of the Son of God be attacked with weapons so formidable, should not we oppose them with weapons more forcible, and more formidable still? We also are stirred in our turn, we also in our turn are moved with jealousy for the Lord of hosts, and we consecrate our ministry to-day to the glory of that God-man, whose ministers we are. In order to prove the doctrine of his divinity, we will not refer you to the philosophers of the age, their knowledge is incapable of attaining the sublimity of this mys
tery; we will not even ask you to hear your own teachers, the truth passing through their lips loses sometimes its force: They are the elders, they are the angels, they are the thousands, the ten thousand times ten thousands, Dan. vii. 10. before the throne of God, who render to Jesus Christ supreme honors. We preach to you no other divinity than their divinity. We prescribe to you no other worship than their worship. No! no! celestial intelligences! ye Angels! that excel in strength: ye, who do the commandments of God; ye ministers! that do his pleasure, Psal. ciii, 20, 21. we do not come to-day to set up altar against altar, earth against heaven. The extreme distance, which your perfections put between you and us, which renders the purity of your worship so far superior to ours, does not change the nature of our homage. We come to mix our incense with that, which you incessantly burn before our Jesus, who is the object of your adoration and praise. Behold, Lord Jesus! behold to-day creatures prostrating themselves upon earth before thy throne, like those, who are in heaven. Hear the harmonious concert, accept our united voices, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing. Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. May every one of us fall down and worship him, that liveth for ever and ever. Amen.
It is then in relation to the doctrine of our Saviour's divinity, and in relation to this doctrine, only, that we are going to consider the words of our text. They might indeed occasion discussions of another kind. We might enquire first, who are the twenty four elders? Perhaps the old testament
ministers are meant, in allusion to the twenty four classes of priests, into which David divided them. We might further ask, who are the four living creatures? Perhaps they are emblems of the four evangelists. We might propose questions on the occasion of this song, on the number, ministry and perfections of the intelligences mentioned in the text but all our reflections on these articles would be uncertain, and uninteresting. As I said before, we will confine ourselves to one single subject, and on three propositions we will ground the doctrine of the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. Jesus Christ is supremely adorable, and supremely adored by beings the most worthy of our imitation.
II. It implies a contradiction to suppose, that God communicates the honors of supreme adoration to a simple creature.
III. Our ideas on this article are perfectly conformable to the ideas of those ages, the orthodoxy of which is best established, and least suspected.
I. Jesus Christ is supremely adorable, and supremely adored by beings the most worthy of our emulation; this is our first proposition... We join the term supreme to the term adoration, in order to avoid an equivocation, of which this proposition is susceptible. The scripture does not distinguish, as some divines with so little reason do, many sorts of religious adorations. We do not find there the distinction of the worship of Latria, from the worship of Dulia: but religious adoration is distinguished from civil adoration. Thus we are told in the nineteenth chapter of Genesis, ver. 1. that Lot, seeing two angels, rose up to meet them, and bowed himself with his face towards the ground.