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heaven would never have proclaimed him the Son of God, in any sense short of his being a full participator of the divine nature; as no such proclamation was ever given respecting angels; and our blessed Lord himself has told us, that among those that are born of women, there never was a greater than John the Baptist; therefore, had the appellation of Son of God been ever conferred on any other human being than the man Christ Jesus, as a mark of distinction and pre-eminence, none could have been more worthy of this title than John the Baptist. But on the contrary, He it is who most specially disclaims all pretensions to equality with the Lamb of God; for when Jesus came to be baptized in Jordan, John forbad him, saying, “ I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” He commenced his ministry by declaring, there cometh one mightier than I after me; He must increase, but I must decrease. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father: He hath declared him. The taunting attestation of the infernal chieftain we often find repeated, “ If thou be the Son of God," &c.; for it is written, “ He shall give his angels charge concerning thee.” (Matt. iv.) And again, “ What have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of God? I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God.” “ Then they that were in the ship, came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth, thou art the Son of God.” (Matt. xiv. 33.) This is far from being a solitary instance of Jesus Christ accepting and receiving homage from men on earth. Had not the fulness of Divinity dwelt incarnate in the man Christ Jesus, (but it did please the Father, we are assured, that in him should all fulness dwell,) He would doubtless have reproved such homage being paid him, as did the prophetic angel from the apostle John; “ See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book : worship God.” (Rev. xxii. 9.) Nothing but Deity can be entitled to worship. “Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” (Matt. xvi. 16.) “Last of all he sent unto them his Son.” (Matt. xxi. 37.) Thus speaking of him as completely pre-eminent to all other messengers. “ Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross, and we will believe. He trusted in God, for He said I am the Son of God:” (Matt. xxvii. 40–43:) while suspended in torture He still asserted that He was the Son of God. “And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark i. 11;) “ And there was a cloud overshadowed them : and a voice came out of the cloud saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him." (Mark ix. 7.) At this illustrious juncture Elias and Moses appeared unto the apostles, and talked with Jesus, but no such attestation was given respecting them.
« And the high-priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of the Blessed ? And Jesus said I am,” (Matt. xxvi. 63; Mark xiv. 61.) The immediate consequence of thus perseveringly declaring the greatness of his rank was ignominy and torture. “The high-priest rent his clothes, and said, What need we any further witnesses ? Ye have heard the blasphemy, what think ye? and they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” But though man refused belief, nature extorted it. “When the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matt. xxvii. 54.) “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest;” (Luke i. 32 ;) “ that holy thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke i. 43.) “The Son abideth in the house for ever.” (John viii. 35.) “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John vi. 69.) “He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” (John ix. 35—38.) Had He not been the Son of God, in a sense quite different from that of any other inspired messenger, the declaration would have been absolute equivocation. “The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John xvi. 27.) “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John xvii. 1, 5.) “ These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (John xx. 31.) “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? and he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearers, so he opened not his mouth : in his humiliation his judgment was taken away : and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said See, here is water : what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts viii. 26–37.)
This recital contains an account of a person high in the estimation of his royal mistress; but at the same time possessed of a much higher honour, high in the estimation of his God. Though advanced by the former to the summit of worldly ambition, the full confidence of his queen and sovereign, yet the splendid appointment by her conferred upon him did not prevent his piety towards God, or his diligent inquiry after truth. These were eminently rewarded by the Most High: an angel was despatched with directions to Philip, who immediately put that highly important question, “ Understandest thou what thou readest?” The eunuch naturally answered, how could he, without some man should guide him ; and, rejoicing in the hope of now obtaining the much-longed for exposition, desired Philip to come up and sit with him, praying to know of whom the prophet spoke, whether of himself or some other man. Then Philip opened his mouth, and preached unto him Jesus. And what was the result ?- The eunuch believed with all his heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Philip must have so preached Jesus, as to have fully convinced him that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, in a way totally differing from any other man or any other being. He must have convinced him, that during the probationary humiliation of the Son of