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and it will obviously be the best repelled by the production of those texts which are denied to exist.
St. Paul pronounces the Word to be the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.' He likewise declares, that it is the Son, to whom Jehovah says, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. He further teaches, that it is still the Son who is addressed by the inspired Psalmist, when he celebrates Jehovah as the creator of the world, and when he describes him as eternally unchangeable in studied opposition to the changeable and perishable elements. Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth ; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remuinest; and they shall all wax old, as doth a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same ; and thy years shall not fail. Exactly similar is the testimony of the Word respecting himself. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.* Our Saviour here takes up, as his own, the thrice repeated declaration of Jehovah, respecting bis eternal existence : he plainly therefore asserts, that he himself is eternal.
Now it cannot be allowed, that, in any of these
Heb. siji. 8.
Heb. i. 8. Psalm xly. 6. 3 Heb. i. 10, 11, 12. Psalm cii. 25, 26, 27, • Rev. i. 8, 11, 17. xxii. 13. s Isaiah xli. 4. xliv. 6. xlviii, 12.
texts, the eternity of the Word is inculcated only in the sense wherein Mr. Bryant allows him to be eternal ; that is to say, eternal in essence, but not eternal in distinct personality. Each of them represents him, as being everlasting and immutable, in his special character of the Son or the Angel of Jehovah, For, if his distinct personality commenced in tiine, he has not been the same, yesterday, to day, and for ever; his throne has not been for ever and ever; he himself is not eternally unchangeable ; and he himself does not answer to that character, which he claims specially as the Word. We conclude therefore, that the eternal personality of the Son is the undoubted doctrine of Holy Scripture, and that this eternal person is the peculiar God who presides over all the three dispensations.
There is a most unfortunate propensity in human nature to warp the doctrines of revelation, and to adapt them to certain preconceived opinions and imaginary established truths. Instead of raising his ideas to the standard of God's word, man rather delights to bring down that word to his own level : and, instead of preparing himself to receive what may not have been previously expected ; he is unwilling to admit any doctrine, which cannot be reconciled with prior and favourite systems. The natural consequence of such a temper of mind is, to mistake the plainest declarations of Scripture, and to overlook or contradict its clearest and most obvious assertions; to assume the authority of a judge, rather than to put on the submissive meekness of a disciple; and to reject, with presumptuous
boldness, the decisions even of the Almighty himself.
This unhappily prevailing humour, which in every age has been the fruitful parent of error and heresy, was never more forcibly exemplified, than by the mode in which Christianity was often received at its first promulgation both by the Gentiles and by the Jews. Of the former, many were led, by a fantastic system of mythological philosophy, to reject the Old Testament as the work of the evil principle, and to identify the Saviour with that extraordinary hero-god whom they venerated as the frequently-appearing father both of deities and of
Of the latter, the whole unconverted mass rejected the Gospel as an impious attempt to subvert the Law: and not a few even of those, who embraced Christianity, so far mistook the nature of the Levitical dispensation as to deem it for ever obligatory at least upon the house of Israel.
I shall at present offer a few remarks on the strange error, which sprang up among the Gentiles.
I. In addressing converts of this description, we may observe, that St. Paul frequently warns them against that wisdom of the pagan world, which was taught in the ancient Mysteries, and which would assuredly introduce a corruption of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Hence, in opposition to such wisdom, he exhorts them, to adhere to that Mystery of godliness of which he himself had been the hierophant, to venerate the Christ whom he had preached to them, and to guard themselves against being led astray after a spurious Christ whom certain heretics (well denominated antichrists) were anxious to obtrude into the throne of the genuine Messiah.
I would, says he to the Colossians, that ye knew, what great conflict I have for you, and for them ai Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh : that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, even of the Father and of the Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile' you with enticing words : for, though I be. absent in the flesḥ, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order and the stedfastness of your faith in the Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ : for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.'
This exhortation is plainly directed against certain teachers, who wished to draw the converted Gentiles
from that Messiah whom Paul had preached to them: and the pretence of these
! Coloss, ii, 1.-9.