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Divinity of Christ
TO THE PRESENT EDITION,
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1826.
The Spiritual Reader, conversant in divine things, will need no information to show him, for whom these Sermons, on the Godhead of Christ were originally intended. He will perceive, that they were meant for such, as by regeneration had been brought into a capability, under divine teaching, of receiving “the things which are freely given to us of God,” (1 Cor. 2:12). But he will perceive also, that they were meant for such, as Paul calls “Babes in Christ,” to be fed “with milk, and not with meat,” (1 Cor. 3:1-2). Hence he will observe also, that the subject begins, and is carried on through the whole volume, more in a way of inquiry than decision: more with a view, that the Reader, matriculated in the school of Christ by the new birth, should form his own opinion, under divine teaching, than be led by the Writer’s. And hence the question, with which the first sermon opens, is, in fact, carried on through every discourse that follows; and forms the conclusion for inquiry at the end—What think ye of Christ? And, the design here-from is, as if personally addressed to every Reader; saying, “You have now gone over some of the leading points of character, concerning the Almighty Author of salvation; the question from the whole now is, What think you of Christ?”
Had these Sermons been originally designed for the higher taught classes, in the Church of Christ; the subject would have been treated, in a much greater extent, in the mysteries of the gospel; and in the inquiry concerning Him, “whom to know is life eternal;” here it would have been prosecuted, under all its bearings. The glorious doctrine of the most holy Trinity would have been the basis (as it is in itself of all revelation) of these Sermons, and every view of our most glorious Christ would have been taken from this standard. Wherefore this was not then done, hath been assigned; and the motive, if wrong, must be its apology. But now, after a lapse of time, of six and thirty years; spared by the Lord to the present period; and called upon for a new edition of this work; in revising the whole, and to render the whole, under sovereign grace, more generally useful to the church at large; I have judged it right to begin where God himself in his gracious revelations of himself to his church began; and take our datum in proof of the Godhead of Christ, from the doctrine of “the Holy Three which bear record in heaven: for these Three are One,” (1 John 5:7). This foundation, spiritually and scripturally formed in the mind by an unction from the Loan, (1 John 2:20), will prepare the enlightened believer to a proper apprehension of his Almighty Person, who in his divine essence and nature is one of those Holy Three, constituting Godhead; and who, by the assumption of our nature hath come forth to make a revelation of the purpose, counsel, will, and pleasure of Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons; and is the great medium of all communication, and the visible Jehovah to the church, in all the departments of nature, providence, grace, and glory.
Every part and portion of the word of God tends to proclaim the unity of the Divine Essence, in his Trinity of Persons. But as if, in greater condescension still, the Lord Jehovah not only proclaims this foundation truth; but proceeds to give full and repeated testimonies of the same. For while we hear Jehovah call himself “the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” (Isa. 57:15) and by his servant the prophet saith, “Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord!” (Deut. 6:4.) he no less teacheth the church, that his nature, and being, and essence, differs from all the creatures he hath called into existence; for it is in a Trinity of Persons. Hence we find the sacred Three speaking to each other, and speaking of each other; and in a way, and manner, as decidedly define a distinction of Persons, while constituting One, and the same eternal essence of Godhead. I stay not to quote the many passages to this amount, in both Testaments of Scripture; for this would form a Treatise of itself, more than a Preface. But I refer you to some few in point: Psalm 110:1; 45:6-7; 40:6; with Hebrews 10:5; John’s Gospel in every part; and Acts 13:1-2; &c.
But what is very highly observable, and if the Reader hath not already been acquainted with it, and is a follower of Christ in the regeneration, he will find an high gratification from, is, that the conferences of the Holy Three in One with each other, as recorded in the Bible, are chiefly, if not altogether, concerning the church. This is a wonderful condescension in the High and Lofty One inhabiting eternity, and ought to be everlastingly uppermost in our hearts. It begins at the very first chapter of sacred Scripture, (Gen. 1:26) where we find the sacred language: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Again, “Let us go down and there confound their language,” (Gen. 11:7). And this (which is but little ‘considered) was more in mercy than judgment; for it laid the foundation for the miraculous gift of tongues, at the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:4). We have another beautiful illustration of this distinction of Persons in the Godhead, conversing about the church, in the several acts of grace towards the church, as related in the vision of Isaiah, sixth chapter, and explaine; Acts 28: 26.
But we must not stop here; for blessed be our God, in his Trinity of Persons, he bath not stopped here. Acts of unparalleled grace are unfolded, of this distinction of Persons in the Godhead, and as particularly made known to the church in the several manifestations of love from each, and to every individual of Christ’s mystical body. It is the Father, by whom the whole family the church is named, in heaven and in earth, (Eph. 3:14). His is the choice of their persons; his, the adoption of them as children; his, the acceptation of them in Christ, (Eph. 1:4-6). It is God the Son, Who hath espoused them to himself; taken their nature, and redeemed them from the Adam-fall transgression “by the sacrifice of himself,” (Isa. 54:5; Hosea 2:19; Heb. 2:16; &c). It is God the Holy Ghost, who hath anointed them together with Christ; and by his own personal work, carries on the whole process in the renewal of our nature, from the fall, from grace to glory, (Titus 3:4-6). Now these, and the like views (and which the reader will not fail, I hope, to observe, are all founded on scripture authority) will not only prepare the regenerated child of God, for receiving the testimonies selected in this volume of the Godhead of Christ; but, under a divine unction from the Lord, will tend to open the finer feelings of the soul, to the spiritual enjoyment of those distinct acts of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and induce what is the highest proof of being a partaker of grace; namely, a corresponding affection of love, adoration, and praise to the united Author of such unspeakable mercies.
I am led to hope, that the revision of this Work in this manner, for the present edition, will, under the Loan’s blessing tend to render it more useful. Even the more advanced believer in the church of God, by beginning with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, will find the advantage in contemplating the vast assemblage of scripture proofs here brought into one view, of the Godhead of Christ. And our little children in the divine life will be led to trace up the glorious subject, of Christ’s Godhead, to behold his oneness in the unity of the divine essence, and Trinity of Persons according to our Loan’s own statement: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. He that hath seen me, bath seen my Father also!” (John 14:7 & 9).
The reader of the former editions will observe that I have omitted in this all reference to Socinian writers. Indeed, I thought it then, but am more convinced now, it was labor lost. For while the Holy Scripture asserts, that “the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God,” (1 Cor. 2:14) to what purpose appeal to them? Add to this weighty consideration, the writings of such men are ephemeral, and the sooner they are consigned to their just oblivion the better. But in the place of such quotations, I have endeavored to raise up, here and there, through the body of the Work, spiritual reflections, which I hope the Lord will make profitable to Spiritual Readers.
I cannot close my Preface without pausing to observe, and in that observation, to adore, distinguishing grace, for preserving a life so marked with evil, (Ps. 36:1) through a period of six and thirty years; and for enabling me to revise these early labors. “Lord! what am I! and what is my father’s house?”—The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give (if it be His blessed will) to every redeemed and regenerated Reader, that his grace may incline to the perusal of these Sermons, “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe!” And through rich, free, full, sovereign grace, they may “be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God!”
PLYMOUTH, CHARLES’ VICARAGE,
April 13, 1826.
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