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system of Christianity what a sound and healthy root is to the health and vigour of the tree. As in the most ordinary calculations of arithmetic, there can be nothing but error when a mistake is made in the
which the calculation is to be carried out. So in religion there can be nothing right which commences with a fundamental error. These preliminaries, brethren, may be considered as selfevident, and they establish at once the importance of the practical remarks on which I would insist, that it is essential to our everlasting welfare to have right conceptions of the personal dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ. A mistake made here pervades the whole system built upon it; and a mistake made here is fatal. For instance, if the Lord Jesus Christ is not truly and properly divine; that is, if he is not the second person in the ever blessed Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, the mighty system of redemption which is built on the merits of his death, as the atoning sacrifice for sin, falls into ruin and buries beneath its massy fragments every hope of salvation which is founded on the doctrine. Still further: If the Lord Jesus Christ is not truly and properly divine, then has the Church, from the time of the Apostles to the present day, been guilty of one universal crime, which must bar against us the gates of the kingdom of heaven. I mean the crime of idolatry; a crime which has ever met with the outpoured vengeance of heaven in the most awful and signal catastrophes; a crime which contravenes the very first of those words which issued from the mouth of the Eternal, amidst the thunders and the lightnings of Sinai“Thou shalt have none other gods but me." This
is one view of this great subject. Now look at its opposite. If the Lord Jesus Christ is truly and properly divine, then the denial of that doctrine puts in hazard of everlasting wo, the souls of those who take a part against the Lord and against his anointed. If the Lord Jesus Christ be truly and properly divine, then a denial of this doctrine is eternally ruinous, for it is a crime which has no less awful a description than that of trampling under foot the Son of God; counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, denying the Lord that bought them. Between these two opinions, brethren, there is a great and irreconcileable variance; they can never coalesce; they are as distant as the heaven is from the earth; and on the one side or on the other, there is a fatal, a soul-destroying mistake. I have sometimes heard it said, that it was uncharitable to deny the name of Christian to those who refuse to allow the true divinity of Christ; and so it would be uncharitable if the religious indifference of the present age were a standard. I have no doubt, but that John the Baptist and our Saviour would both be considered uncharitable, if they were now preaching, and there are sermons preached by both which would absolutely shatter the nerves of the present generation. Hear John the Baptist to the most learned and distinguished Rabbins—“Ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" And our Saviour—“Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, nor suffer them that are entering to go in. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?"
Why, brethren, I know not that there is ever a breach of Christianity in the proclamation of the truth, provided that truth is told with an affectionate solicitude of spirit. Every individual who denies the divinity of Christ as God, must, if he maintains consistency, look upon us as idolaters; and idolaters of a most infatuated description, because we have not the apology of a dark and superstitious age. On this point, then, you must be doctrinally correct; for this is the starting point in the great course of your salvation ; this the fountain from which must issue the streams of consolation ; this the foundation on which, if the edifice of your hopes is not erected, it can never stand “when the rains descend, and winds blow, and the floods beat violently." I go for evidences, at this time, brethren, only to the text. I could detail the first announcement of St. John—"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” I could go through page after page, where the attributes of God are ascribed to Christ, and where is the record of his omnipotent doings. I could tell you of prophets who spake of him as the Mighty God and the Ancient of days; as God with us and the Lord our righteousness. I could tell you of Apostles who continue the record, and speak of him in terms like this—“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;" who tell us that though“ being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God;" who tell us that he is "the true God and eternal life." But time would fail in this enumeration. I ask your attention but one moment to the terms of the text already considered—“ Thus saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that shutteth and no man openeth; he that openeth and no man shutteth.” Is holiness an attribute of the true and living God, so that it constitutes the very name by which he chooses to be called? Yet here Christ calls himself the Holy One. Is truth an essential attribute of Deity alone? Yet here Christ calls himself the one that is true. Is it a prerogative of Omnipotence to shut and to open ? Here Christ claims it to himself.
Brethren, be not deceived. Hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints. Amidst all the conflicting opinions of the world, cling to the cross; build on the sure foundation, Jesus Christ, in the acknowledgment of all that appertains to his character and offices and works; confess him before men as the way, the truth, and the life; and never be moved from the hope of the Gospel, either by the sneers and the scoffs of open infidelity, or by the same devices of the adversary more speciously disguised. If in this assembly there should be one solitary individual; if in this Church, dedicated to the glory of the triune God, one poor wanderer from the light and the truth of the Gospel; one who would deny the Lord that bought him; in the tender charities of that Gospel I would call upon him to forsake the delusion in which he hath wrapped himself, and in the deepest penitence fall before the footstool of Him so long despised and neglected, and take up the confession of the doubtful Thomas, who put his finger in the pierced side of the crucified and said, “my Lord and my God.”
2. The natural state in which every individual is placed, by which I mean the state in which dividual is before he is truly converted unto God, is that of alienated affections and feelings into which enter the very elements of all hostility to God. This state is well described by the parable of our Saviour, in which the rebellious subjects of a kingdom are represented as saying we will not have this man to reign over us. There are few individuals among the present generation, who would be unwilling to be the recipients of the bounty of Christ's great salvation, if such reception were not encumbered with the necessity of a true and living devotion to his service. It would suit the fashion and the feeling of nominal Christians, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in his profitable attributes as a Saviour, were it not for the difficulty which the carnal heart interposes in the way of taking him as a master also. Where Christ is a Saviour, he must be taken as a king, and he must reign as supreme over the affections of the regenerated heart, as he reigns supreme over the powers and the principalities of heaven. Permit me to ask you, brethren, one and all, and particularly those who have taken upon themselves the solemn profession of the name of Christ, has there been an open, a decided, and unhesitating submission of your whole selves to Him? Have you put yourselves completely into his hands, to save your souls exactly as suits the arrangements of his reconciling mercy, and to mould all your affections as suits the arrangements of his omnipotent grace? That there is a necessity for this complete surrender to Christ, is obvious from every rational and scriptural consideration, but with peculiar emphasis from the fact placed so conspicuously before us in the text on the sanction of his own high authority; for if he hath the keys of David, if he openeth and no man shutteth, and if he shutteth and no man open