Noble's 'Appeal': VII. The Trinity, As Centered In The Person Of The Lord Jesus Christ.:
A. The General Doctrine stated, and established by Scripture.
if I had formally arranged this work in two principal Divisions, the second of them would begin with this section: for, haying gone through all the "curious" subjects objected against, in the sentiments held by us as those of the New Church predicted under the figure of a New Jerusalem,—being chiefly those which are connected with our Views of the Eternal World and State,—I am now to appeal to you, my Reflecting and Candid Readers, in regard to our Doctrines of Faith and Life. This is the part of the whole subject which is, in reality, of far the higher importance: it is the part of the subject also, on which every well-disposed mind, having the Word of God to refer to, may most readily determine whether our sentiments are well founded: and it is the part of the subject in regard to which, as we think, we are able most conclusively to evince, that our sentiments are those of the Word of God itself, Were I then to adopt that course which I should most prefer, I should dwell most at length on our Doctrines of Faith and Life; and then again appeal to you to judge, whether a writer who, like the illustrious Swedenborg, was enabled to present, in so clear a light, the certain dictates of truth upon every subject in which we are most interested as Christians, and so completely to clear away the clouds which have so long hung over the doctrinal interpretation of Holy Writ; and who has done this, as he assures us, by virtue of a special illumination, bestowed on him as the Herald of the Second Advent; could possibly be deceived in this assertion, or in anything else which he advances. But, as observed above, I here am compelled to direct my course in the direction marked out for me by our opponents, and particularly by the one whom I have chiefly taken as my guide in regard to the subjects necessary to be considered. As he has tilled the greatest part of his Anti-Swedenborg with observations and extracts intended to throw ridicule on the Views of the Eternal World and State presented in the writings of Swedenborg, and on the character of Swedenborg himself; and as these also are the subjects chiefly brought forward by others, and in regard to which the most unfounded and injurious prejudices prevail; I have devoted the greater part of this Appeal to the examination of them on their own merits: and I trust it has sufficiently appeared, that, when the whole of the statements of Swedenborg respecting them is understood, all must be admitted to be securely established on the immovable basis of Scripture, Reason, and Fact, The opponent alluded to, however, has not loft our more important doctrinal sentiments unassailed; on the contrary, he has put out all his strength in an attempt to overthrow the most important of them all,—that which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Being in whose single Person the whole of the Divine Trinity centers,— as being, himself, the Person of the Father, and thus the proper Object of Christian worship. Like many others, he is hostile to this doctrine, evidently, because it overturns the erroneous view of the Atonement and Mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ: the true nature of which, as exhibited in the doctrines of the New Church, he likewise assails with gross misrepresentations. He also throws some unjustifiable slurs on our sentiments in regard to the Christian Life. The same course has been taken by most of our adversaries. These three subjects, then, I propose, as briefly as their importance will admit, to discuss in this and the two following Sections; and so to conclude this Appeal.
That the doctrine of the New Jerusalem respecting the Divine Being and the Trinity in the Divine Nature, should be fixed upon by any as an object of attack; that, on the contrary, it should not be eagerly accepted by all who assume the Christian name, as relieving them from difficulties which all ingenuous minds are well aware are not a little embarrassing; are facts which, to us who have embraced it, would appear astonishing, were we not conscious of the power which received opinions and early prejudices always exercise over the judgment of weak and fallible man. All acknowledge, at least in words, that God is and can he but one: yet when it is affirmed, as is done by the majority, that this One God exists in Three Persons, each of whom, "by himself" (as the Athanasian Creed expresses it), is God and Lord; a perplexity und confusion are introduced into our conceptions, which many find to be distressing in the extreme. To escape from the embarrassment, numbers have rejected the idea of a Trinity in the Divine Nature altogether; and not seeing how to connect this rejection with an acknowledgment of the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, have refused the honours of divine worship to the Saviour of the world. In the midst of these contending opinions it is, that the New Church, which they who have embraced it believe to be prefigured by the New Jerusalem of the Revelation, addresses itself to the Candid and Reflecting. We see in Scripture too decisive evidence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, to suffer us, with the Unitarian, to call it in question: on the other hand, we find too strong declarations of the indivisible unity of the Divine Nature, to allow us, with the Trinitarian, to portion it out between three separate Persons. We take all that is true in the system of each, separated from all that is false. The doctrine of the Tri-personality was first invented, because those who framed it saw no other means of preserving some acknowledgment of the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; and we agree with them, that this acknowledgment is indispensable, in order that any true church may exist. The doctrine of Unitarianism has been introduced, because they who framed it saw no other way to preserve inviolate the perfect unity of the Godhead: and we agree again with them, that where this is in any degree deported from, no true church can exist. Both these mischiefs are completely avoided in the doctrines of the New Church, as drawn from the Scriptures in the writings of Swedenborg. May I not then appeal to the Candid and Reflecting, of all Denominations, and ask, whether such a system of Doctrine ought not to be looked at by all with respect; whether it might not be reasonably concluded, that it would excite violent hostility in none, but would be accepted by multitudes of sincere Christians with thankfulness and eagerness ? That it is entitled to such acceptance, because it not only proposes what is obviously desirable, but establishes what is certainly true, we will endeavour in some degree to evince.
I. We will state, in the first place, what the True Doctrine, as advanced in the writings of Swedenborg, is. All parties will admit, that the unity of God is a doctrine most perpetually insisted upon by Scripture, and constantly held forth as the fundamental idea on which all true religion is erected. It must also be acknowledged, that, though the word "Trinity" does not occur in Scripture, we repeatedly find the idea properly intended by that term; since we everywhere read, in the New Testament, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as equally concerned in the great work of man's salvation. It is no less unquestionable, that there are a great many passages, likewise, which ascribe Divinity to the Lord Jesus Christ: for even the deniers of his divinity admit this, though, not knowing how to reconcile this doctrine with that of the unity, they endeavour to explain away their force. On the admission, then, that these three doctrines are explicitly affirmed in Scripture — so affirmed that they naturally result from the sense of the words themselves; how are they to be combined into one coherent sentiment ? The fundamental doctrine of the Divine Unity implies, that the doctrine of the Divine Trinity must not be so strained as to be set at variance therewith, as is done when the Trinity is understood to be a trinity of separate persons, in the usual acceptation of that term. It must then be a trinity of Essential Principles,—of Constituent Elements (so to speak, for want of better terms), forming together One Person. And if the Divinity of Jesus Christ is also certain, — thus if he is God at all, and yet God is but one, — who can he be but that One Person ? In him, as he decidedly declares, the Father dwelleth: "the Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works:"* — he must then be the person of the Father. From him, or out of him. from the Father within him, as he also declares, the Holy Ghost proceedeth: "the Comforter, — whom I will send unto you from the Father:" + to represent, also, his sending of which, "he breathed on them, and Said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."# Does it not then appear, that, properly, the Father is the Divine Essence; the Son, the Manifestation of that Essence in a Personal Form; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifying Energy and Influence — the Divine Life — thence proceeding to operate the graces of salvation in the human mind ?
II. This is a general view of the Doctrine of the New Church upon this subject: we will adduce a little more of the Scripture evidence by which its truth is established.$
As to the Unity of the Divine Being, on this the Sacred Scriptures constantly insist in the most positive language, and never hint at his dwelling in any more persons than one. In the Decalogue, given with such awful solemnity from Mount Sinai as a summary of all religion, the Divine Legislator declares, as a necessary preliminary to the whole, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."|| And in that sublime condensation of the substance of the whole law, given by Moses in Deuteronomy, and repeated by Jesus in the Gospel, the duty of love to God is prefaced by this strict declaration of his unity: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord."@ Amongst many other express declarations of the Divine Unity in the Sacred Scriptures, it will be sufficient to mention the following: "There is none good but one, that is, God." ** "one is your father, which is in heaven."++ "There is none other God but one."## "God is one." $$ "There is one God, and there is none other but He." || || "Thou art the God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth."@@ "I, even I, am He, and there is no god with me." ***
* John xiv. 10. + Ch. xv. 26; ch. xvi. 7. # Ch. xx. 22.
$ I take this evidence as collected in a Tract intitled, The True Object of Christian Worship Demonstrated, and the Doctrine of the Divine Trinity Elucidated, &c.; which, was formed from a Lecture delivered by me. In the first edition of this work, I only made references to the evidence there collected; but, on so important a subject, the chief points of it should, certainly, be placed before the reader.
|| Exod. xx. 3. It Deut. vi. 4; Mark xii. 29. ** Matt. xix. 17. ++ Ch. xxiii. 9. $$ 1 Cor. viii. 4. || || Gal. iii. 20. Mark xii. 32. 1111 2 Kings xix. 15. *** Deut. xxxii. 3&.
"I am Jehovah,* and there is none else."+ "In that day jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one jehovah, and his name one."#
Nothing, in short, can be more certainly established by Scripture than the doctrine of the unity of God; nor can. there be any doctrine in which reason more thoroughly concurs; and reason, if not capable of discovering divine truths of itself, is yet given to enable us to apprehend them when revealed. Who, then, is the one God, so solemnly presented to the adoration of Christians ? The term "God" is the name by which, in the present clay, the Divine Being is usually designated: but when this sacred name is mentioned, who is the Being that it brings before the mind ? Is there one person in a hundred in whose mind an idea is awakened by it of the Lord Jesus Christ ? If not, this is a plain proof, that, however exalted a Being some may conceive him to be, they do not fully assent to the belief of his Divinity.
Again, then, let us turn to the Scriptures; and here we shall find, that the texts which affirm the unity of God, are not more decisive, than those which assert the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
In what terms does Isaiah announce his birth ? "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."$ John begins his gospel with declaring, that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" and this Word, he presently informs us, was what "was made flesh." How does this same Divine Being announce himself, after his glorification or complete union with the Father, to this same apostle in his vision in the isle of Patmos?—"I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."|| He here assumes to himself the most absolute and incommunicable names and attributes of Deity, thus verifying the truth of the saying of the apostle Paul, that "being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God;"@ on which it may be observed, that if he was in the form of God, and equal with God, it is evident that he could be no other than God himself; since God can have no
* It is to be observed, that, in the English. Bible, the term lord is almost always used instead of the magnificent name expressive of underived Being, jehovah; and the danger of confounding this name with another, which properly signifies Lord, is only guarded against by printing the word lord in capital letters where it is jehovah in the original. As, however, the name jehovah can be applied to none but the Infinite Deity, whereas the term Lord is applicable also to inferior governors, the former is preserved in the passages above quoted.
+ Isaiah xlv. 5. # Zech. xiv. 9. $ Isaiah ix. 6. || Rev. i. 8. @ Philipp. ii. 8.
form but his own form, and no equal but himself. In short, pages might be filled,—yea, whole books, with plain proofs from Scripture of the Divinity of the Lord. *
Now, if it is an undeniable truth, in the first place, that God is one; and if it is equally certain, in the second, that Jesus Christ is God; a child may draw the conclusion, that he is God alone. The two propositions cannot be connected in any other manner. But plain as the conclusion is, lest man should fail to arrive at it, God, in his Word, has drawn it for him.
The Lord Jesus Christ has always been acknowledged as the Bridegroom and Husband of his church, + and the Redeemer of His people, # but the prophet Isaiah, (or rather the Lord by him,) addressing the Church, proclaims, "Thy maker is thy Husband, jehovah or hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer is the holy one of israel: the god of the whole earth shall he be called."$ So in Jeremiah || and Hosea, @ this distinguishing character of Jesus Christ,—that of being the Husband of his Church, is assumed by Jehovah: whence it is plain, that the Redeemer, Jesus, is the great Jehovah, the Maker and God of all the earth.
Many other passages, testifying the glorious fact, that the Creator and Redeemer are the same Divine Person, and, of course, that He in whom both characters are united is the only God, may be adduced from the prophets.
Thus Jehovah says again by Isaiah, "There is no god else beside me; a just god and a saviour, there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am god and there is none else." ** Again: "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer, jehovah or hosts: I am the first and
I am the last, and beside Me there is no god."++ "I am jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy saviour."## "I, even I, am jehovah, and besides me there is no saviour." $$ "Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O god of Israel, the saviour." || || The God of Israel is here called a God that hideth himself, in reference to his veiling over his infinite glory with Humanity. "All flesh shall know that I jehovah am thy saviour and thy redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."@@ "Thou shalt know that I
* See, for instance, Hindmarsh's Seal on the Lips of all who deny the Supreme Divinity of Jesus Christ, in which this truth is demonstrated by the evidence of 144 passages selected from the gospels and the Eevelation alone.
+ Matt. ix. 15; xxv. 1, 5, 6; John iii. 29; Rev. xix. 7; xxi. 2, 9; 2 Cor. xi. 2. # See Luke xxiv. 21; Gal. iii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 18; Rev. v. 9; Ephes. i. 7; Heb. ix, 12. $ Isa. liv. 5. || Chap. xxxi. 32. @ Chap. ii. 2, 7, 18. ** Isa. xlv. 21, 22. ++ Isa. xliv. 6. ## Isa. xliii. 3. $ Verse 11. || || Ch. xlv. 15. @@ Ch. xlix. 26.
jehovah am thy saviour and thy redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."* "I will help thee, saith jehovah and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."+ "Thus saith jehovah your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."# "Thus saith jehovah thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am jehovah that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself."$ "Thus saith jehovah thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am Jehovah thy God."|| "As for our redeemer, jehovah of hosts is his Name, the Holy One of Israel."@ "Thus saith jehovah, the redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One."** "With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith jehovah thy redeemer."++ "Thou, O jehovah, art our Father, our redeemer, thy name is from everlasting."## "Their redeemer is strong, jehovah op hosts is his name."$$ "I am jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me, for there is no saviour beside me."|| ||
As observed above, when the name of God is mentioned, but few apply it in their thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ, who, nevertheless, is "the true God and eternal life:"@@ so, on the other hand, when the names Redeemer and Saviour occur, they are seldom considered as belonging to the Infinite Jehovah, but are applied, in idea, to Jesus Christ alone, as a distinct person from Jehovah. That these names properly belong to Jesus Christ, is most certainly true:*** but that they belong as properly to Jehovah, also, the passages above quoted most decidedly demonstrate; either then Jehovah and Jesus must be one and the same Divine Person, or there must be two distinct Saviours and Redeemers. This supposition is too absurd to be entertained by any one, and is also positively contradicted by Holy Writ. The prophets affirm, as above, that Jehovah is the only Saviour.—"I am Jehovah, and beside Me there is no Saviour;"—"a just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me;" but the Apostles declare that this character belongs only to Jesus, "neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."+++ The only way of combining these divinely-inspired declarations is, by regarding them as belonging to the same Divine Being who is called Jehovah before his assumption of the Human. Nature, and Jesus afterwards.
* Isa. Ch. Ix. 16. + Ch. xli. 14. # Ch. xliii. 14. $ Ch. xliv. 24. || Ch. xlviii. 17. @ Ch. xlvii. 4. ** Ch. xlix. 7. ++ Ch. liv. 8. ## Ch. lxiii. 16. $$ Jer. i. 34. || || Hos. xiii. 4. @@ 1 John v. 20. *** Matt. i. 21; Luke ii. 11; John iv. 42; Philipp. iii. 20; 1 Tim. i. 15; 2 Tim. i. 10; Titus i. 3, 4; ii. 13; iii. 6; 2 Pet. i. 1, 11; ii. 20; iii. 2, 18; 1 John iv. 14 +++ Acts iv. 12.
It is, in fact, impossible for any evidence to be more clear and conclusive, than that which Scripture bears to this grand truth, That Jehovah and Jesus are one and the same Divine Person—the one and only true God. The whole Word teems in birth with it from one end to the other. As an angel declares in the Revelation, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." *
Let the following passages further exhibit what the testimony is which the Scriptures bear respecting Jesus:
That Jesus is Jehovah, is evident from these passages of Moses and the prophets. When Jehovah revealed himself to Moses, it was by a name peculiarly characteristic of Him as the Source of Being; He said, "Thus shalt thou say to the Children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."+ Jesus assumes the same character; "Before Abraham was, I AM."# Had he simply meant to announce his pre-existence, he would have said I was: to say, in reference to a prior period, I AM, would be the grossest solecism in the mouth of any but Him who is independent of time, and to whom things which, to us, are past or future, are eternally present.—Isaiah, chap. vi., relates a vision, in which he saw the Lord sitting upon a throne; whilst the seraphim cried "Holy, holy, holy, is jehovah od hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." The message given to Isaiah on this occasion is quoted in John; $ and it is there said, "These things spake Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of Him." His and Him clearly refer to Jesus, who is thus identified with Him whom the seraphs worship as jehovah od hosts.—John was the forerunner of Jesus. All the Evangelists apply to him the prophecy of Isaiah, xl. 3: but the words there are, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of jehovah." The predictions in Malachi iii. 1, and iv. 5, are also applied || to John: but these also, in the original, speak of one who should go before jehovah. Either, then, Jesus is Jehovah, or these prophecies are wrongly applied to John.—All these inferences are sufficiently clear, and might easily be extensively multiplied. but the following passage declares the same truth in the most direct form: "Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a Righteous Rranch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth; in his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, jehovah our righteousness."@
The Unity as to Person of jesus and the Father, may be inferred from innumerable passages in the Evangelists, but in the following it is expressly stated: "I and my Father are one."** "He that
* Rev. xix. 10. + Ex. iii. 14. # John viii 58. $ Ch. xii. 38—41. || Matt. xi. 10, 14. @ Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. ** John x. 30.
seeth me, seeth him that sent me."* "Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh to the Father but by me."+ This is a plain declaration, that no one can have any communication with the Father (or Divine Essence), except by approaching him as dwelling in the Son (or Divine Humanity); but, to make it still clearer, the Divine Speaker adds, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him."# Plain, however, as this assertion is, the disciples, like too many of their successors at the present day, did not readily receive it, but still retained an idea of a Divine Being out of, and separate from, Jesus; wherefore "Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us."$ But, in a style that implies reproof for their dulness of apprehension, "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known me, Philip ? He that hath seen me, hath seen the father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?"|| It is impossible to confute, in more decided terms, the error of those who think they can find any real Object of worship out of, and separate from, Jesus, or to show, more clearly, that in Him the whole of the Divine Essence resides, and that out of Him nothing of it can be known or apprehended.
The Apostles, also, in their Epistles, continually speak of Jesus in language only applicable to the Supreme and Only God. "Christ," says St. Paul, "who is over all, God blessed for ever."@ "For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." ** Here Creation, Preservation, and Eternal Existence, are ascribed to Jesus Christ; and as there cannot be two Creators, two Preservers, or two Eternals, we may well conclude with Dr. A. Clarke,++ that "Jesus Christ is, according to the plain obvious meaning of every expression in this text, truly, properly, independently, and essentially, god."—"Without controversy," says the same Apostle, "great is the mystery of godliness. god was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."## This passage led Bishop Prettyman Tomline to observe, in his "Elements of Christian Theology," "Since the six propositions are applicable to Christ, and to Christ alone; and since St. Paul affirms them to be true of God; it follows, that Christ is God." But if any other separate Being be God also, it would not be correct to say that Christ is God, but that he is a
* John xii. 45. + Ch. xiv. 6. # Ver. 7. $ Ver. 8. || Ver. 9. @ Rom. ix. 6. ** Col. i. 16, 17. ++ Sermon on Acts xvi. 31. ## 1 Tim. iii 16,
God; which would shock every pious mind: when therefore it is said by St. Paul and the bishop, that Christ is God, the only legitimate inference is, that he is the Only God.—The faithful are required to be "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."* It is allowed by commentators, that the great God and our Saviour are here the same Divine Person, since the Apostle is speaking of the second coming of the Lord, which is not to be an appearing of the Father, but of Jesus Christ. The passage would therefore be more correctly translated, "the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ;" or, "of the great God, even our Saviour, Jesus Christ." But how can the supreme Divinity of Jesus be more strongly indicated than by calling him the great god ? What blasphemy would it be to apply such an epithet to any subordinate being, how highly soever exalted! —Similar is the testimony of all the other Apostles. James calls Jesus Christ "the Lord of Glory."+ The Lord of Glory is the same as the King of Glory. And "Who is the King of Glory ? jehovah of hosts; he is the king of glory."# So declares David, when speaking of the ascension of Jesus.—The prophets of the Old Testament continually declare their revelations to be "the Word of jehovah:" but Peter affirms that the divine communications they received were from Jesus; for, speaking of man's salvation, he says, "of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace which should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time, the spirit of christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow."$ It is plain then that the Word of Jehovah is by the Spirit of Christ, thus that Christ is another name for Jehovah. John, in his Epistles, affirms Jesus Christ to be God, not only in the passage quoted above, but also when he says, "Hereby we perceive the love of god, because he laid down his life for us."|| Jude openly declare him to be God alone, when he concludes his Epistle with saying, "To the only wise god, our saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen." Well might Bishop Burnet, after noticing some of the above passages, with others, remark, "Idolatry, and a plurality of Gods, seem to be the main things that the Scriptures warn us against: and yet here is a pursued thread of passages and discourses, that do naturally lead a man to think, that Christ is the true God." Can any see the truth of this observation, and fail to conclude, that since "Christ is the true God," in him so completely ** dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," that to worship any supposed God out of him, must be a species of that idolatry against which the Scriptures mainly warn us!
* Tit. ii. 13. + Ep. ii. 1. # Ps. xxiv. 10. $ 1 Ep. i. 10, 11. || 1 John iii. 16.
To proceed to the crown of prophecy—the Revelation of John. We here find Supreme Divinity ascribed to jesus christ in language which, if not more clear, is more commanding, than that in which the same truth is expressed elsewhere. One passage has been quoted above: the following are a few more.
First, it is to be observed, that, in the prophets, Jehovah repeatedly describes his own Being by calling himself the First and the Last. "I am the First, I also am the Last."* Certainly, no epithet can more appropriately describe the nature of Him who is the Origin and End, the All in All, of every thing that exists: but, in the Revelation, Jesus assumes this incommunicable name as his own. When John was in the spirit on the Lord's-day, he heard behind him a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, "I am alpha and omega, the first and the last."+ John turned to see the voice which spake with him; when he saw "One like unto the Son of Man."# And to remove from his mind any doubt whether the voice he had heard, announcing the divine character of the Speaker in such decided terms, proceeded from the Being whom he now saw, and whom he recognised as the Son of man—the Lord Jesus Christ, this beneficent Saviour, at the sight of whose majesty John had fallen at his feet as dead, laid his right hand upon him, saying unto him, "Fear not, I am the first and the last."$ The Lord Jesus Christ again describes himself by this title in his address to the Church of Smyrna; to which he says, "These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive."|| And again, at the conclusion of the book, when announcing his second coming, he says, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."@—The Lamb, so often mentioned in the Revelation, is acknowledged to represent the Lord Jesus Christ; it represents him as to his Human Nature, whilst He who was seen sitting upon the throne, denotes him as to his Divine Essence; and we read, that they who gave their power to the beast "shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is lord or lords and king of kings." ** And again: He who was seen++ on a white horse, and whose name is called the Word of God, is manifestly a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ; and of him also it is said, that "He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, king of kings and lord of lords."## Is it possible to express supreme dominion in more emphatic terms ? Must it not be true, as is also expressly declared, that to Jesus Christ belong "glory and dominion for ever and ever." $$
* Is. xlviii. 12; see also ch. xli. 4; and the passage quoted above, xliv. 6. + Rev. i. 11. # Ver. 13. $ Ver. 17. || Ch. iv. 8. @ Ch. xxii. 12, 13. ** Ch. xvii. 14. ++ Ch. xix. ## Ver. 16. $$ Ch. i. 6
These selections from the Revelation, establishing the identity of Jesus and Jehovah, shall be concluded with some passages from the same book, which prove that all divine worship should be addressed to Jesus Christ, both as to his Essential Divinity and his Divine Humanity.
"We read+ that "the four-and-twenty elders [denoting the superior angelic powers] fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created." In the next chapter# we are informed, that the four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb; after which myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands of angels worshipped him, in terms only differing in their greater fulness from those in which the elders had, in the former chapter, worshipped Him who sat on the throne: for they said, "Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."$ After which, united and equal worship was given to Him that sat on the throne and to the Lamb: for John says, "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 honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."|| But are we to imagine that these are two distinct Divine Beings? If we confine our ideas strictly to the literal expressions, we may indeed form such a conception; but then, to heighten the absurdity, we must suppose that one of them is actually in the form of a lamb. This alone ought to convince us that two separate persons are not meant. For can we conceive, that when angels are favoured with a sight of the Object of worship, they in reality see two, one sitting upon a throne, and the other in the form of a lamb, "in the midst of the throne?"@ Surely not. But when the angels are favoured with the beatific vision, they behold their God in one single Person and in a Divine Human Form, and are penetrated at once with the deepest feelings of adoration both to the Divine Essence, and to the Divine Humanity, in and by which latter the former is rendered apprehensible to them as an object of sight and worship. This combined perception of Divinity and Humanity which angels
+ Rev. iv. 10, 11 # Ver. 8. $ Ver. 12. || Ver. 13. @ See ver. 6.
experience on the sight of their Lord, could not be expressed in natural language, without the use of much circumlocution and definition, which is a style quite foreign to that in which the Scriptures are written, and wholly unsuited to be the vehicle of that fulness of wisdom with which they are replete. The Scripture style consist* in expressing spiritual ideas by the use of natural images; by which means the most extensive amplitude of meaning is conveyed in a few words. It is literally true, that if all that is contained in the Scriptures were given in the style used in ordinary compositions "even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."* It is thus that, instead of diffusely speaking of the Essential Divinity and Divine Humanity, as we are obliged to do in offering our explanations, the Scriptures here simply speak of "Him that sitteth on the throne and the Lamb;" in which brief expressions more is implied than the most intelligent of the angelic hosts will ever be able to exhaust. But to prevent even the weak among mankind from being misled by this emblematic mode of expression, the truth shines through it with sufficient lucidity to enlighten the minds of all who do not prefer to abide in darkness. Thus, in the present instance, mention is first made of the worship, by the angelic hosts, of Him that sat upon the throne: presently, the very same adoration is given to the Lamb; next, both are worshipped distinctly together; and lastly, both are worshipped unitedly together: for the chapter concludes with saying, "And the four-and-twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever;" where it is evident that the phrase, "Him that liveth for ever and ever," denotes the same Divine Being, viewed perfectly as One, as had been called in the preceding verse, in reference to his two first Essentials, "Him that sitteth upon the throne and the Lamb." That this epithet, He that liveth for ever and ever, is meant to include both the first Essentials of the Divine Nature, is clear from its being elsewhere applied to each of them distinctly. We have seen in a former quotation, that He that sat on the throne is called "He that liveth for ever and ever;"+ in another instance, Jesus Christ takes the same title: for he says,# "I am He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever more:" where the words translated "alive for evermore," are, in the original Greek, the same as are elsewhere translated "He that liveth for ever and ever."—These remarks may serve to explain other passages in which the Divine Being is spoken of in terms which imply duality or triplicity: in all such instances we are not to understand a duality or triplicity of persons, but of Essential Principles in the Divine Nature, constituting together One Person.
* John xxi. 25. + Ch. iv. 10. # Ch. i. 18.
Thus we find, from an attention to the Old and New Testaments in all their parts, That Jesus Is Jehovah; That He And The Father Are One, Insomuch That Whoso Seeth Him Seeth The Father; That He Is Over All, God Blessed For Ever; That He Is The Creator And Sustainer Of All Things By And For Himself; That He Is God Manifest In The Flesh; That He Is The Great God, The Lord Of Glory, The Inspirer Of The Prophets, The Only Wise God: That He Is The First And The Last; And That, With Respect To His Humanity As Well As His Divinity, He Is The Object Of Worship Of All The Angelic Hosts. Can we then hesitate to admit, that the testimony and spirit of all prophecy respecting Him is, that he is the supreme and only divine being ? Can any one fear to imitate the conduct of Thomas, when his incredulity was removed, and with a fulness of acknowledgment that excludes the possibility of thinking of any other, cry to Him from the bottom of his heart, "my lord, and my god!" (John xx. 28.)
Since then the doctrine of the Sole Divinity of Jesus Christ, is alike free from the objections which reason urges against the Tri-personal system, and from the contrariety to Scripture which is manifest in the Unitarian scheme, with what confidence may it be recommended, and with what delight should it be received, as the only view of divine truth capable of relieving the mind from all perplexity! Whilst it delivers us from the anarchy and contradictions of Tritheism, it preserves to us all the consolation conveyed in the idea of a Divine Saviour. It removes all obscurity, all room for doubt, and presents us with an Object of worship, on which the understanding can fix itself, and which the heart can embrace with all its best affections.