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ner in which it is made, will appear, from a few considerations. 1, Mankind had formed very incorrect and false notions of God." It was to eradicate these and produce different views of the universal father, and thereby save mankind from darkness, sin and death, that the Son of God was manifested. 2, The Gospel supposes an assimilation or conformity of the creature to the Creator, in which conformity, his happiness now consists, in proportion as the work is effected upon him; but there can be no assimilation or conformity, without a model or image; the qualities and features of which are to be imparted to the thing that needs such conformity. These statements shew us the moral fitness of an exhibition of the divine nature and the absolute necessity that such an exhibition should be made by the Son of God..
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There are two methods which exist in the very nature of things, in which we are made capable of reasoning, and arriving at truths. We may reason from cause to effect, or from effect to cause; but it is just to remark that although one or both of these modes may sometimes be adopted, yet some subjects require one preference to another. This observation applies to the case we are considering, in the following manner: Christ as the Son and image of God is represented under the figure of a stream from a fountain, and a branch from a root.See Pslam xlvi, 4, compared with John viii, 42. See also Psalm lxxx, 15, Isaiah iv, 2, xi, 1, Jeremiah xxiii, 5, Zechariah iii, 8, and various other texts. In these instances God seems to be pleading his own cause, by manifesting to man his own nature. This he does by directing the mind to employ its active powers by looking from the stream to the source, from the branch to the root, from the effect to the cause; and this method applied to such a subject, under its particular circumstances, has the preeminency.
We are further assisted in a collection of the evidence of Christ's Sonship, by a consideration of those moral attributes of God, which of all others are particularly distinguished in the pages of revelation. The union of these in Jesus, places the truth of his filial relation to God upon the surest base. We have reference to the wisdom, power and love which forever characterise the works of the Supreme Being. Wisdom is a necessary quality in all arrangements, in every thing that supposes or contemplates a happy result. It looks from cause to effect, and scans with minute exactness the relations and connexions of things. It discovers all obstacles, either very obvious or more latent, and provides against every opposing
ause, In these respects, Christ was styled by the apostle, with vast propriety, "the wisdom of God." But as wisdom without power accomplishes nothing, this quality will demand an accurate definition. It is that by which a system projected in wisdom is carried into operation. It is that by which every cause is made to produce its own effect, without the least danger of any frustration. In these instances, Christ is the "pow er of God," and must, as in his resurrection, be acknowledged "the Son of God with power." See I Corinthians, i. 24. Phi. lippians, iii. 10. But as wisdom without power would produce no valuable end; so both united, without love, could never subserve any gracious purpose; inasmuch as without this exalted principle, they might be employed to destroy as well as to save. It remains, therefore, to consider the character of Jesus as set forth, and demonstrated to man, by his united labors of love; that believing on him, by the things that are written, "we may have life through his name."
The Christian dispensation proposes as a maxim, on the truth and certainty of which we may rely-"by this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." On this proposition we may with safety build an argument. If the disciple is directed to possess love as a distinguishing mark or badge of his discipleship; then if the disciple is not above his Lord; the Lord and Master must be known and distinguished by the same characteristic. Indeed, the founders of all systems, and the systems themselves, receive, or ought to receive our credit or not, in proportion to the good which they propose and finally produce. This observation may lead us to compare in our minds, the specific merits of different systems and their founders. Almost all have made great profes. sions of regard to the general welfare of mankind, but this is all in which they have in any degree resembled the religion of Jesus. Mahomet, as well as many other succeeding authors of systems, could profess much zeal for the interest and happiness of mankind; but his doctrine and theirs must be propagated by fire and sword, by blood, incarcération, tortures and death. Now if by these marks we know and distinguish the spirit and disposition of such infuriated sectarians; why can we not by a rule equally as safe, believe, receive, acknowledge and appreciate the mild spirit of Jesus, the Son of God and Sa viour of the world? Of such exercise of the mind, happily, we have many luminous examples. The woman of Samaria is convinced of this, that Jesus was the Cbrist, from his telling her all things that ever she did. This woman's report, though
only second hand testimony, produces conviction upon the minds of many Samaritans. But when Jesus had taken up his abode with those Samaritans, who besought him to tarry with them; then many more believed, because of his own word; and said unto the woman, now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. John iv. 39-42. What was it, we enquire, of which these Samaritans were convinced? We answer, that Jesus was the Christ, and consequently the Son of God. By the force of what evidence were they convinced? By the energy of his word, which they heard, by which they knew that he was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Having noticed these memorable instances of the convincing efficacy of the Redeemer's word, we may turn to consider his mighty works, in the general and particular views in which they are presented; at least as far as circumstances will admit, Generally, we enquire, would these prove sufficiently strong to show that Jesus was the Son of God? Not unless they possessed these marks. They must be the works which no other man did; and they must be works of love, labors of kindness; and performed upon an ample scale; and their benevolent effect must be extensive. You ask, why they must possess this last criterion. We answer, that the theory and practice of his religion might be united. He directed his followers to love their ene, mies; to pray for those that despitefully used and persecuted them. As without this spirit they could not be his disciples; so neither without the same disposition would Jesus have been what he was, the Christ, the Son of God, which God is love. All religions but his have been and are contracted and partial. They are very accommodatiug systems. They charmingly quadrate with men's mean, selfish, and malevolent spirits. But they possess no better qualities, no higher marks of their celestial origin, than the systems and dispositions of the Scribes and Pharisees; the publicans and sinners of old. "If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" The fiercest banditti, who live by unjustifiable depredation upon the rights of others, will exercise benevolence to one another. But christianity must possess more enlarged qualities. Yes, Jesus, thou son of thy father's love; we know that thou art the Christ, for thy works are such as no other man did, not only in kind but in degree.The bungling and clumsy imitations of spiritual Egyptian ma, gicians have all failed. The rod of the prophet of Israel hath
swallowed up their rods. A minute detail of all the "mighty works" which Jesus wrought, and which "were written, that we might believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God," cannot be expected in so brief a description. We have glanced at the general principles, to which the human mind has reference in the establishment and support of a belief in evangelical truth.
We may now attend to a summary of the works of the Son of God, as exhibited by himself on a particular occasion.John, who was then in prison, had heard of the works of Christ. To ascertain who he was, which at present it seems he did not know; he sent two of his disciples, saying, art thou he that should come, or look we for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Matthew xi, 2—5. This, as has been said, contains a summary of our Redeemer's labors of love; and the account was intended as an answer to John's question, and as evidence to prove the character of him who gave it. No answer could have been so proper, nor subserved so well the interest of the cause in question. The five first items in the account, respect the care and attention of Christ to the temporal and bodily wants of mankind. By this is proved, that "we have not an high-priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities." The sixth and last article has relation to our spiritual state, and demonstrates the Saviour's character in a most clear and conspicuous view. "The poor have the gospel preached to them." That gospel which is glad tidings of exceeding great joy, which brings life and immortality to light, is freely preached to the poor; its richest treasures are unfolded to the "miserable, the blind and naked." Of him who doth this, we may truly say, "No man can do these things except God be with him. Truly this was a righteous man. Truly this was the Son of God."
As every tree is known by its fruit, we have, by this rule, which we think is not here missapplied, learnt that the charac ter and spirit of Jesus is best known by his works. We have seen that these labors respected the general good and happiness of man; that neither his wisdom nor power were ever exercised to render the world miserable. We have the pleasure to believe that our faith in Jesus, rests upon a sure basis; and that the works which he performed, testify of him, that "he was the Christ the Son of God."
We shall conclude these observations, with reference to one or two instances, selected from many, in which a testimony was given to the character of our Lord, being produced by hi mighty works. Then was brought unto him, one possesed with a devil, blind and dumb; and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, is not this the Son of David Matthew xii, 22, 23. Again, And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind dumb maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet and he healed them; insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel-Matthew xv, 30, 31. The simplicity, plainness and appropriateness of these scriptural accounts, prevents the ne cessity of any comment; and we need not multiply examples We pass to consider in the third place, the necessity of this simplicity and unity, in the profession of the Christian faith. This point may be successfully argued on several importan principles, some of them of a general nature, others more par ticular.
1. From the very nature of the simple proposition which requires our faith, we are authorised to say, that if it were proper to make addition, Christ, or his Apostles by his direction, would have made it. And for this, a sufficient reason might have been alledged; such an addition made by Chris or his Apostles, would have had a tendency to prevent the introduction of error, through the unskilfulness of others, who might afterwards attempt to do it, without a precedent. But we find no such additions were made nor authorized. The reason o which appears from the general principle here laid down; and will be more fully discovered from other considerations.
2. The unity of the spirit is to be preserved among Christians in the bond of peace. It is worthy our notice, how frequently terms expressive of unity, occur in the Christian dispensation To the members of the Christian communion, there is one God the Father, one Lord Jesus Christ, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one calling or vocation, one hope of that calling. To the Christian also, as his Lord is one, so is his name one and as is his name so is his praise. Now unity of faith, or as it is sometimes called "being of one heart and one mind" is the result of unity in the objects of faith.
Where the objects of faith are multiplied, articles of belief and systems of faith are always proportionably accumulated