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Divinity of Christ.
"And Thomas answered and said unto him, my Lord and my God!"-JOHN, xx. 28.
IN this discourse I will endeavour to give a general
answer to objectors.
The objections to the doctrine of the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour are neither so numerous nor so various as some are apt to imagine. They are all reducible to two classes, and are derived from two sources, reason and revelation. We do not mean that either reason or revelation affords any solid foundation for these objections; but objectors appeal. to reason, or to revelation, and most generally to both, and consider these as the foundation of their objections and arguments.
As to the objections of the former class, before we yield to their force, we should be assured that we have carefully and impartially considered the subject; and that these objections are either self-evident propositions, or just conclusions, drawn from clear, evi
dent, and rational premises, and not "oppositions of science, falsely so called, which some professing, have erred concerning the faith." But above all, we should remember that the light of nature, or human reason, is not competent to decide against the truth of any doctrine which it could not discover, and which, when revealed, it could not comprehend; provided this doctrine contains in it nothing absurd, or contradictory to reason. The human mind is not omniscient: our knowledge, at best, is limited; and the entrance of sin into the heart has impaired our faculties, at least with regard to things spiritual and divine. But granting that this is not the case, and that the human mind is in as high a state of perfection as ever it was, yet certainly there may be many things which human reason cannot find out unto perfection.
If any person should advance a mysterious doctrine, and acknowledge that it is not revealed in the word of God, if it does not contradict my reason, nor the word of God, it may be true, for any thing I know; but the question is, have I sufficient evidence that it is true? If another person should advance a mysterious doctrinè, and assert that is contained in the holy scriptures, then it is reasonable that I should consult the sacred records, with a view to find out the truth or falsehood of this assertion; and if this doctrine is not contained in the scriptures, my faith is no way concerned in it, even though the doctrine should not be contradictory to reason.
Again, if a certain doctrine should be advanced as a mysterious doctrine contained in the word of God, and if I could perceive that this doctrine, instead of being a divine mystery, was a palpable absurdity, I might safely conclude that it had no foundation in the word of God. But if some person should advance a mysterious doctrine, and if, upon searching the scriptures, I find this doctrine clearly revealed, I may safely presume that it is neither contradictory to reason, nor to that general revelation of which it is a part. If, upon the strictest examination, I cannot
find in this doctrine any thing contrary to reason, and as the doctrine may therefore be true, so, being revealed in the word of God, it must be true: andas to passages of the same general revelation which may seem to be in opposition to the doctrine, it is my duty to endeavour to reconcile them to the doctrine in such a manner as shall produce a perfect harmony, which can be effected, with regard to the doctrine of Christ's divinity, and with great facility. A doctrine which is clearly revealed in the word of God, is not to be denied, given up, or explained away, on account of some passages of scripture which may seem to militate against it; for the opposition may be only apparent, not real.
I presume it will not be denied that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin Mary, was really and truly a man. This is a truth frequently asserted in the sacred scriptures, and cannot be denied. Nevertheless. this same Jesus has Divine attributes ascribed unto him; is called Jehovah; is called God; is called King of kings, and Lord of lords; and is the object of religious worship. Shall we therefore deny that Jesus Christ is really and truly a man? This we cannot do without contradicting the scriptures, and without denying an established and indubitable fact. If, then, divine attributes, divine names and titles ascribed, and divine worship paid, unto Jesus, are not sufficient to warrant us to deny his humanity, why should the attributes of sinless humanity warrant us to deny his divinity? Are these two propositions, viz. Christ is God, and Christ is man, contradictory? If we admit the first, must we reject the latter? or if we admit the latter, must we reject the former? By no means; we are under no such necessity. It is not contradictory to reason to say that Christ is both God and man but unless we admit this proposition to be true, we are under the necessity of charging the scriptures with self-contradiction, and must give up either one or other of these doctrines: we must
give up the scriptures, as records that cannot be depended upon.
This doctrine of the hypostatic union, namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man, and yet but one person, one Christ, is not contradictory to reason. It is indeed a great mystery; it is the great mystery of godliness. It is not contradictory to reason to assert that a man is a being consisting of soul and body; but this also is a great mystery.
But some may say, what have we to do with mysteries? I answer, much more than many are willing to acknowledge. There are mysteries in the Christian religion which are revealed, declared, and made known unto us in the sacred scripture; and if we acknowledge the scripture to be the word of that God who does nothing in vain, we must confess that these mysteries were revealed to answer some important purpose, with regard to the glory of God, and the interest of our immortal souls.
Are there no mysteries in the natural world? Yes, there are facts, there are many things which we cannot fully understand, nor find out unto perfection. There are many things too high for us, and which say unto our understandings, thus far and no farther. And this we experience in our search after the knowledge of natural things, when we attempt to investigate the causes of things, the connexion between cause and effect, and the manner how the cause acts. in producing its proper effect. There are natural mysteries; and the philosopher is not ashamed to pay particular attention to these things, nor to write his thoughts, and publish his discoveries to the world: these writings are read with pleasure, and they contribute to increase our knowledge, while at the same time they teach us this humiliating lesson, that, comparatively, we know nothing, or that the things which we know are very disproportionate to the things that we do not know. What man can explain the nature of his soul's connexion with his body, or the manner how the soul acts upon his
body, and is acted upon? How does spirit act upon matter? It is a mystery to me at this moment how an act of my will moves the muscles of my hand in writing; and it must be a mystery to the reader, how, by means of the eye, his mind is made acquainted with my thoughts: for though words are marks or signs of ideas, and are agreed upon as such, yet these questions remain unanswered, namelo, what is the connexion between a visible mark and a thought of the mind, or how does an image of the mark upon the retina produce thought? What is the connexion between thought and the expansion of the optic nerve? There are mysteries innumerable in the natural world, and there are mysteries in the moral world. We find them in natural religion, in God's moral government, and in the dispensations of Providence. It may therefore be presumed, that in revealed religion, and in the dispensations of grace, there are mysteries which, if revealed religion is of high importance, are highly important. If natural religion cannot be without mysteries, because God is infinite, and cannot be found out unto perfection, revealed religion must contain mysteries, for the same reason.
As revelation contains several doctrines which the light of nature could never have discovered, so it is highly reasonable to conclude that in these doctrines there may be something mysterious; and that reason, which could not make the discovery, may not be able to comprehend the whole of these revelations or revealed doctrines. May there not be some doctrines which we cannot comprehend when revealed, as well as doctrines which we could not find out without revelation?
As God is infinite, and therefore incomprehensible-as his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out, a revelation from God relating to himself, and his unsearchable judgments, must contain mysteries. But, to show clearly that there are mysteries in the Christian religion, I shall pro