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God. Let us beware that we do not contribute to raise a cloud, composed of the turbid elements of human prejudice, and human passion, between a world lying in wickedness, and the sunshine of Heaven's mercy. Let us be careful that “nothing be done among us through strife or vain glory; but let each esteem other better than themselves.” Calling ourselves the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us habitually bear in mind that the “servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God. Amen.
ON THE PRE-EXISTENCE AND DIVINITY OF
JOHN xvii. 5.
“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own
self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
There are certain broad and general principles, in which, it is presumed, we all concur. I trust we are all agreed, for example, in regarding the Bible—the sacred revelation of the Divine will to man—as the only true and unerring rule of faith and practice. “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” And so long as we possess these infallible Oracles of God, we should beware of confounding them with the decrees, and decisions, and commandments of fallible men.
I trust, too, we are farther agreed, as to the right of private judgment; the right of consulting the Holy Scriptures for ourselves, in all matters connected with faith and practice. No man is vested by Scripture with any authority to judge for another in these things; but every man is there expressly required to “search” “to try," s to prove all things,” by that unerring rule; and to be “fully persuaded in his own mind.”
These were the acknowledged rights of the primitive Christians: they are the rights of Christians still. And the allegiance which we owe to Christ, as the King, Head, and Lawgiver, of the Church, absolutely forbids our surrender of these rights. We should bow down to no human authority in religion; we should call no man mas. ter here. It is not only our right, but it is our bounden duty, a. sacred duty which we owe to our Divine Master and to ourselves, to assert and maintain the valuable privileges he has conferred upon us; and to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, that we be not entangled with any yoke of human bondage.” It is the unquestionable duty of all Christian people, just as much as of their pastors, to become intimately acquainted with their Bibles; to bring every thing that is introduced, or attempted to be introduced, into religion, to the test of Scripture: diligently to compare all doctrines, though delivered by the greatest authority upon earth, with what they find in the written word of God; and to receive, or reject them, as they may be found to agree with, or differ from, what we all profess to regard as the sole standard of faith.
These are the foundation principles of Protestantism. These are the principles which our forefathers nobly asserted at the era of the Reformation-many of them with their lives, and the loss of every thing dear to them in this world. These are the principles which all Protestants profess to hold, however some may fall short of them in practice. These are the principles with which I humbly propose entering on a detailed exhibition of what appears to me, after long and serious examination, accompanied by the most humble and earnest prayer, to be the Scripture doctrine of the Divinity of the Son of God. And upon the same principles I have a right to expect from you a patient, attentive, and impartial hearing.
To those who have read the New Testament with becoming attention, it must appear evident that it was not thought necessary to be very explicit in disclosing the precise dignity of that Divine Saviour which it reveals. Possibly because the allwise Author of this book saw that the human faculties were too limited to receive or comprehend a disclosure of this nature; or, because he knew that a distinct apprehension
thereof, on the part of man, was not necessary to human salvation. This, as I take it, is one of those high subjects, in which we are here permitted to “ see in part, and to know but in part.” Yet none of us can doubt that enough has been disclosed upon it to answer the wise and good purposes of the Almighty :-nor has any one the least reason to call for farther or more particular information, unless he can show his claim to it. “ Secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those which are plainly revealed, to us and to our children.”
No one will say that the office of Christ Jesus our Lord as Mediator between God and men, and the glad news of salvation which he brings to a world lying in wickedness, and the redemption which he hath purchased for his followers, and the grounds on which we may expect to be partakers therein-no one will say that these things have not been laid before us in the Gospel with all plainness and simplicity. And the knowledge of these things, it is presumed, is of much more importance to creatures in our condition, than the most correct and enlarged conceptions of the nature and dignity of that heavendescended Mediator-conceptions which may be altogether above us.
It is no doubt a most pious exercise of our minds to endeavour to understand this latter subject-so far as it hath pleased God to reveal