John Wilson.

Unitarian principles confirmed by Trinitarian testimonies : being selections from the works of eminent theologians belonging to orthodox churches online

. (page 52 of 55)
Online LibraryJohn WilsonUnitarian principles confirmed by Trinitarian testimonies : being selections from the works of eminent theologians belonging to orthodox churches → online text (page 52 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of man ; but exalted by the Father, who " raised him from the dead,
and set him at his right hand ui the heavenly places, far above all
principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that
is named, not only in this world, but also m that which is to come;
and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head
over all things to the chm-ch," Eph. i. 20-22. — Bishop Pearson :
Exposition of the Creed, Art. H. pp. 216-17.

God hath committed the administration of this judgment to Christ,
that he might hereby declare the righteousness and equity of it,
in that mankmd is judged by one in then' own nature, a man like
themselves ; and therefore we find that the Scripture, when it speaks
of Christ as Judge of the world, doth almost constantly call him
"man" and "the Son of man," Matt. xiii. 41; xvi. 27; xxiv. 30;
XXV. 31. Acts xvii. 31. By the constant use of which expression, the
Scriptm-e doth give us plainly to understand that this great honor of
being Judge of the world was conferred upon the human nature
of Christ ; for, as he is God, he could not derive this power from any,
it being originally iuherent in the Deity. Which Hkewise appears ih
those expressions of his being ordained a Judge, and having all
authority and judgment committed and given to him. Acts xvii. 31 j
John V, 22, 27. — Abridged from Archbishop Tillotson : Sermon
179 J in Works, vol. ix. pp. 325-6.


In this place [Matt, xx^iii. 18-20], you hear our Saviour declaring
all po^Yer and authority to be given him at his resiu'rection ; in con-
sequence of which power, he commissions his disciples to convert,
baptize, and instruct the Avorld. . . . You see, lilcewise, that the powers
delegated to the ministers of the church derive themselves from tliis
power so received ; and, consequently, all acts done by them in the
name of Christ are founded in the power which he received at his
resurrection. . . . The power over all things, the dominion both of tlie
dead and the H^ing [Rom. xiv. 9], commenced at the resurrection,
wliich was indeed the very first step to glory and honor which our
blessed Sa\iour took after liis state of humiliation and sufferings. . . .
What can be added to this description of power and authority?
[Eph. i. 17-23.] And yet the apostle founds all this upon his resur-
rection, and his exaltation consequent to it. Then were all things
put under his feet; then was he given to be Head over the cluu'ch,
and set above all principality and poAver and might and dominion, and
every name that is named. The Scripture abounds in evidence of
tliis kind. And I tliink there is nothing plainer in the Gospel than
that Clu-ist Jesus is our Lord, because he hath redeemed us ; that he
is our King, being raised by the Father to all power and authority ;
that he is our Mediator and Intercessor, being set down on the right
hand of God in the heavenly places. All honor and worship paid to
Christ, in and by the church of God, are founded in this exaltation. —
Bishop Sherlock : Discourses, vol. iv. pp. 58-9, 62.

Even in liis human natm-e, he [Christ] was raised by God to a
very illustrious dignity, John xvii. 5 j Acts ii. 33-36 ; Eph. i. 20, seq. ;
Cob i. 17 ; Phil. ii. 9, 10. He is entitled to honor from every bemg,
even from the higher intelligences, Heb. i. 6 ; Phil. ii. 9, 10 ; since
he is henceforth raised in glory and majesty above all, 1 Pet. iii. 22.
Hence a kingdom is ascribed to him, over which he reigns m heaven.
He is called King, and divinely appointed Lord, Acts ii. 36; and
Kvpcoc do^rjg, especially by Paul, 1 Cor. ii. 8, i.e. the glorious, adorable
Lord. In Heb. i. 9, Paul applies to Christ the passage, Ps. xlv. 7,
" God hath anointed thee with the oil of joy above thy fellows ; " i. e.,
God honors thee more, and gives thee more privileges, than aU the
partners of thy dignity, — the other kings, or sons of God. . . . The
government of Christ is described by himself and his apostles as being,
not external and temporal, but spiritual, conducted principally by
means of his religion, by the preaching of -the gospel, and the power
wliich attends it. This government, which Jesus administers as *»


man, is not natural to him, or one which he attains by birth, but
acquired. He received it from his Father as a reward for liis suffer-
ings, and for his faithful performance of the whole work and discharge
of all the offices intrusted to him by God for the good of men, Phil,
ii, 9 ; Heb. ii. 9, 10. Christ learned by his sufferings to obey God,
and do liis will ; and he who knows how to obey so well is also qua-

Hfied to govern well The phrase [" sitting at the right hand

of God '] is never appHed to Christ, except when his humanity is
spoken of, or when he is mentioned as Messiah, TdsdvOpcjirog. The
language, " Christ left his seat at the right hand of the Father in
order to become man," was first used by the fathers who Hved after
the fourth century. Such language never occurs in the New Testa-
ment. " Sitting at the right hand of God " is always there represented
as the reward which the Messiah obtained from God, after his death
and ascension, for the faithful accompHshment, when upon earth, of
all his work for the salvation of man. It is the promised reward
which the victor receives after a long contest : vide Acts ii. 3 1-36 ;
Heb. xii. 2. Hence the Father is said to have placed Jesus at his
right hand, Eph. i. 20. This phrase, therefore, beyond doubt, impKes
every thing which belongs to the glory of Christ considered as a man,
and to the dominion over the entire universe, over the human race, and
especially over the church and its members, which belongs to him as
a king. Tliis is the reward which he receives from the Father

The holding of the general judgment, as well as the raising of the
dead, is commonly ascribed in the New Testament to Christ, and
represented as a commission or plenipotentiary power, which the
Father had given to the man Jesus as Messiah, Rom. ii. 16 ; John v.
22, 25; Matt. xvi. 27; Acts x. 42, xvii. 31. Christ himself assigns
it as the reason why God had intrusted to him the holding of this
judgment, that he is a man, John v. 27, coll. Acts xvii. 31. God
has constituted him the Judge of men, because he is man, and knows
from his own experience all the sufferings and infirmities to which cur
nature is exposed, and can therefore be compassionate and indulgent,
Heb. ii. 14-17, coll. 1 Tim. ii. 5. — Abridged from Geo. C. Knapp :
Christian Theology, sect, xcviii. ; sect. xcix. H. ; sect. civ. I.

Of what natm-e is the Kvpiorrig so often ascribed to the Saviour by
Paul; and the other writers of the New Testament ^ Is it original or
conferrei ? Does Christ as Messiah, and, in this capacity, as Lord of
the church and of all things, possess original or delegated dominion ?
" God manifest in the flesh," the eternal Logos who " was with God|


and was God," — iii a word, God-man, — this complex person might
have a KvpLOTrjg that was delegated or conferred. Was this in fact so ?
Has Paul and his coadjutors taught us such doctrine ? These ques-
tions I feel myself obliged to answer in the affirmative. The apostle,
in Phil. ii. 5-11, states it as a ground of Christ's exaltation to be Lord
of all, that " he became obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross ; " for, when he had niade mention of this obedience, he imme-
diately adds, "wherefore," i.e., because he was thus obedient, he was
exalted to a throne of glory. Consequently, the dominion in question
was the reward of obedience; i.e., it was conferred, bestowed, and not
original. In exact accordance with this is the passage in Heb. ii. 10,
which represents Christ as perfected in glory, advanced to the highest
honor and happiness, as a consequence of his sufferings. Of the same
tenor also are all those passages which speak of Jesus as exalted to
the right hand of God, after his resurrection. So testifies also the
beloved disciple : " Even as I (Christ) overcame, and am set down
with my Father on his tlu'one," E,ev. iii. 21 ; i.e., his Kvpcorrjg, or being
enthroned, was the consequence of his overcoming; viz., overcoming the
temptations and trials of life, overcoming his spiritual enemies, and
persevering even to the end in a com'se of entire duty and holiness.
Again, John xiii. 3 ; xvii. 2 ; iii. 35 ; v. 26, 27 ; v. 22. With this
testimony agree the declarations of Jesus as recorded by another
disciple : " All things are delivered unto me of my Father," Matt.
xi. 27. " All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth,"
INIatt. xxviii. 18. These are only a few of the many texts which
speak plainly on the subject of the Messiah's conferred dominion. It
is impossible to set them aside. Whatever dominion he possessed as
Messiah, as God-man, as Mediator, as Head of the church militant,
it is one which is bestowed. — Abridged from Moses Stuart, in
Biblical Rei'isitory for October, 1831, pp. 749-51.

VVith the aid of Trinitarian divines, we showed, in preceding pages, that
Jesus Christ, whether regarded as a superhuman being, who existed before
his residence in the world, or as the Messiah with all the functions and
qualifications requisite for his acting on earth in this character, i-eceived his
existence, his possessions, and his powers, from his heavenly Father. In
the present section, we have proved, with the same help, that our Lord, in
that state of exaltation to which he was raised after the completion of his
earthly course, was and is indebted to the same great Being for his regal
power and dominion, — for his authority as the Head and Sovereign of thff
universal church.



To Him wlio sits upon the throrie,

The God whom we adore,

And to the Lamb that once was slain,

Be glory evermore.

Scotch Paraphrase.

§ 1. Civil, kot Divi>'e, Homage paid to Jesus while on Earth.

Should any one peruse the evangelical narratives with the requisite
attention, he would hardly affirm that the persons who worsliipped
Christ while on earth acknowledged him to be the Son of God [in
the Trinitarian sense, we suppose, is intended]. They believed, indeed,
that he was a distinguished prophet, sent by the Almighty, by whose
assistance he cm-ed the blind, the deaf, and the lame ; but they
did not recognize him as the true Son of God. This is proved by
the opinion of Nicodemus, John iii. 2 ; the confession of Peter and the
other disciples, Matt. xvi. 13, 14 ; and the exclamation of the inha-
bitants of Nain, Luke vii. 16. Accordingl}^, the magi, the leper, the
centurion, and others, though as yet they did not acknowledge Christ
to be the Son of God manifest in the flesh, felt persuaded that the
power of the Most High was exhibited in him ; and therefore the wise
men honored him as their King, and others sought aid and health
from liim as from a mighty Prophet of God. — Abraham Scultet :
Exercitationes, Hb. i. cap. 59.

I do not, in proof of this [that Christ is the object of divine wor-
ship], m-ge the instances of those who fell down at Christ's feet and
worshipped him while he was on earth ; for it may be well answered
t3 that, that a prophet was worshipped with the civil respect of falling
down before him, among the Jews, as appears in the history of Elijah
and Eiisha. Nor does it appear that those who worshipped Christ
had any apprehension of his being God : they only considered him
as the Messias, or as some eminent prophet. — BiSHOP Burnet :
Exposition of the Thirty-nine Anicles, Art. I.

The bishop, however, excepts from such instances those in which tha
disciples are said to have worshipped Christ at his ascension.



Doing reverence by prostration is not only an act of worship paid
to God, but often to Idngs and great men in the Old Testament, ac-
cording to the custom of Eastern countries : see 2 Sam. ix. 6 ; xiv. 33.
It was likewise an expression of reverence paid to prophets, on the
accoimt of the sanctity of their office, and not refused by them : see
1 Kings xviii. 7. Of this kind probably was the worship paid by
the leper to Christ (]\Iatt. viii. 2), whom he took for a prophet. —
William Lowth on Dan. ii. 46.

Those who render, " they adored him," suppose that the magi
were acquainted with the mystery of the Saviour's Incarnation and
Divinity, which the apostles obtained only after his resurrection. I do
not say this in order to favor a Chiistian sect that has false opinions
on the person of the Sanom'. It is certain that the Jews paid the
homage of prostration to persons of dignity whom they respected. —
Isaac de Beausobre on Matt. ii. 11 : Remarques, torn. i. p. 10.

" To do him homage," npoaawTjaaL avro). The homage of prostra-
tion, which is signified by this Greek word in sacred authors as well
as in profane, was, throughout all Asia, commonly paid to kmgs and
other superiors, both by Jews and by Pagans. It was paid by Moses
to his father-in-law (Exod. xviii. 7), called in the EngKsh translation
" obeisance." The instances of this application are so numerous, both
in the Old Testament and in the New, as to render more quotations
unnecessary. When God is the object, the word denotes adoration
in the highest sense. In old EngHsh, the term "worship" was
indifferently used of both. It is . not commonly so now. — Dr,
George Campbell on Matt. ii. 2.

lipoGKvvelv, in the New Testament, particularly denotes, " with the
head and body bent, to show reverence and offer ci^dl worship to any
one ; to salute any one, so as to prostrate the body to the ground, and
touch it even vnth. the chin ; " a mode of salutation which was almost
universally adopted by Eastern nations. UpooKvvElv also signifies " to
bend the knee in reverence and honor, or in supphcation ; " corre-
spondmg, in this sense, to the Hebrew word, nininilin, " he bent " or
" prostrated himself at the feet of any one for the sake of honor and
reverence ; " for Avhich it is used in the Septuagint, Gen. xviii. 2 j
xxiii. 7, 12; xix. i. Esth. iii. 2, 5, &c. . . . See Matt. ii. 2, 8, 11;
viii. 2 ; Lx. 18, comp. Mark v. 22 and Luke v. 12. Matt. xv. 25 j
xviii. 26 ; xx. 20 ; xxviii. 9, 17. Mark v. 6 ; xv. 19. John ix. 38.
Acts X. 25. — J. F. ScHLEUSNER : Lexicon in Novum Testamentum,
art. npoaKvviu, 3.


\ 2, Secondary, xot Supkeme, Homage paid, or required to bk
PAID, TO Christ, after his Exaltation to Heaven,

The former kind of worship [to Jesus as God] is not different
from which is exliibited to God the Father : the latter worship
is not absokitely supreme, and is suitable to Christ as Mediator, but
subordinate to that of the Father, by whom it has been graciously
communicated to Christ, and is expressly commanded in Scripture to
be paid to him. It therefore follows, that this worship does not
terminate in Christ himself, but tends to the glory of God the Father,
to v/hom it is either expressly or tacitly referred ; just as the honor
which is manifested towards a legate does not termmate in him, but
'.ends to the glory of the king by whom he is sent. Thus, Phil. ii. 11 :
" That every tongue should confess the Lord Jesus, to the glory of
God the Father." The Lord Jesus is to be worshipped, because in
his name every knee must bow, and every tongue confess him to be
Lord ; and because the basis of this worship is his exaltation by the
Father, for having suffered the death of the cross. But surely these
cu'cumstances are suitable to him, not as God, but as man, and
directly refer to his office of Mediator. The whole of this adoration
is subordinate to that of the Father, and terminates in him ; which is
proved from the concluding words, " to the glory of God the Father."
To this passage, and Jolin v. 22, 23, may be added Heb. i. 6 from Ps,
xc^di. 7. — Philip Limborch : TheoL Christ, Kb. v. cap. 18, § 2, 5.

This unparalleled act of obedience God hath rewarded, by advan-
cing his human nature to universal dominion, that the man Christ
Jesus should now rule over, and be adored by, all creatures ; that all
nations should acknowledge tliis king, and, by submitting to his laws
and government, promote the glory of God the Father, who delights
to be honored in the belief and obedience paid to his blessed Son and
his gospel. — Dr. George Stanhope on Phil. ii. 9-11 : Comment on
the Epistles and Gospels, vol. ii. p. 433.

As the fimdamental reason for which God the Father receiveth
worship of the Jews and Gentiles is because he hath created all
things, and preserves them by his will, to have it perfected and
executed on them ; so the fundamental reason for which the Son is
worshipped is because he was slain, and shed his blood to redeem
thereby all mankind. — Charles Daubuz on Rev. v. 9.

This writer afterwards endeavors to explain this Unitarian remaik in
conformity with Trinitarianism.


In the Revelation of St. John, we have several hymns recorded,
which the church of the first-born sing to God and to liis Christ ; and
we cannot form our devotions from a better copy than that Avhich
they have set us.- In the fom-th chapter [eleventh verse], the four
and ':wenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and
worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crocus
before the tlirone, saying, " Thou art worthy, O Lord ! to receive
glory and honor and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for
thy pleasure they ai-e and were created." Here you see plainly that
the adoration paid to God the Father is founded upon his being the
Creator of all things. Look a little farther into the next chapter
[chap. V. 9, 10], and you will find the same persons praising and
adoring Christ Jesus, saying, " Thou art worthy to tal\.e the book,
and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed
us to God by thy blood out of every kindi-ed and tongue and people
and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests ; and
we shall reign on the earth." Here you as plainly see the worship
paid to Christ to be founded in this, that he was slain, and did by
his blood redeem us ; nay, the very chou* of angels sing praises to him
in the same strain [ver. 12], saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power and riche^ and wisdom and strength and honor
and glory and blessing." From all which it is evident, that the
worship paid to Christ is founded upon the redemption, and relates
to that jDOwer and authority which he received from God at his resur-
rection Here [Rom. x. 8, 9] you see St. Paul requires all men

to honor the Lord Jesus upon this account, because " God hath raised
him from the dead." Every man must " honor the Son, even as he
honoreth the Father" [John v. 23]. Tliis honor paid to the Son
must proceed from this principle of faith, that in your heart you
believe that God raised him from the dead, and made him Lord of
all. ... If he be risen from the dead, if he now reigns in power at the
right hand of the Almighty, if he received tliis power, and if he uses
it in order to our salvation, can any thing be more absurd than to
deny him those honors wliich are due to him in consequence of his
glory, and necessarily flow from the relation we stand in towards
him ? The danger which some apprehend, in paying this duty to
their Redeemer, of robbing God of his peculiar honor, and setting up
a new and distinct object of worship, in opposition to those plain
commands which confine our religious service to God alone, will
vanish away, if we consider that all powers exercised by Christ, all


honors paid to h^m, are ultimately referred to God, the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. The honor and worship paid to the Son must
either be part of the service we owe to God, or it must be inconsistent
with it. If we have found out a new object of adoration for ourselves,
we are offenders against the law, which says, " Thou shalt worship
the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve ; " but if we honor
Christ in consequence of the power and glory conferred on him by
God, and in virtue of a command received from God to honor the
Son even as we honor the Father, then the honor we pay to Christ is
part of the service we owe to God, and arises even out of that com-
mand, " Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt
thou serve." . . . Hence it is manifest that the honor paid to Christ is
ultimately referred to God the Father ; for, the honor paid to Christ
being founded in the power and glory to which he is exalted, the honor
paid must naturally follow the power and glory to which it relates,
and, at the last, terminate in the Fountain and Origin of that power
and glory, even God the Father. — Bishop Sherlock : Discourses,
vol. iv. pp. 63-8.

In books the object of which is to prove the Deity of Christ, it is usual
to assert that Avorship should be paid only to Almighty God; and then to
infer, from the New-Testament instances of reverence and gratitude exhi-
bited towards our Lord, or commanded to be exhibited to him, that he is
essentially divine in his nature and his attributes. But a falsity is contained
m the premises from which the conclusion is drawn ; for, unless the worship
be such as to imply the profoundest emotions of the heart and soul, it is
not entitled to be called divine, and the being to whom the prayers and
thanksgivings are presented is not necessarily God. There are, unquestion-
ably, various degrees and qualities of worship, which, if not disproportioned
to the object revered, are far from being worthy of blame. This feeling,
with its expression, is involved in all the gratitude and veneration mani
fested by one person tovv^ards another, — by the child towards its parents ;
by the pupil towards his teacher; by the dependant towards his superior;
by men in general towards the eminently great and good of all ages, who
have lived and labored and died for the welfare of their country or of their
race. And this deep love, this reverential regard of the human heart for
those who have conferred happiness and blessings, unless it shuts cut God
from the inmost recesses of the soul, has^ever been thought to bring into
play some of the best instincts and affections of our nature. If, then, as
children, it is our sacred duty to honor our father and mother; if, as subjects
and servants, we should reverence and obey such as have authority over
us ; if, as pupils in the school of letters or of life, we are to feel gratitude to
those who have guided our steps, trained our minds, or taught us lessons of
rectitude and li)ve; if, as dependants in a world of order and subordination,



and needful of the assistance of others, we may justly ask and use thelif
aid; if, as inheritors of the mtellectual and moral wealth bequeathed to us
by patriots, poets, prophets, and philanthropists, we may cherish their
memories, celebrate their anniversaries, and raise to their names the song
of thanksgiving and joy, — without encroaching on the supreme and unri-
valled honors due to Him from whom every good and perfect gift proceeds,

— surely the sacred writers might enjoin the practice, or set the example,
of obeying, honoring, and blessing that holy one whom God sent to be the
Saviour of the world; whom " God anointed with the oil of gladness,*' of
inspiration and power, "above his fellows;" and whom, for his perfect
obedience to the divine will, God raised to a glory far beyond that of other
benefactors, — surely the}- might require and perform all this, without
meaning to assign to him tliat worship and adoration which is due, in the
highest sense, to his Father and his God.

- The question, then, is not whether the first disciples and others paid
honor and reverence to Jesus Christ, and whether he and his apostles
enjoined worsliip to be offered to him ; but, rather, whether this was meant
to express divine, supreme adoration; whether it was presented, and was
required to be presented, to him as the Messiah and Mediator, " through
whom God was reconciling the world to himself," or, on the contrar}'-, as
the original Source and Author of the blessings of the gospel. Now, we
have the strongest grounds for believing that the worship spoken of by the
writers of the New Testament, in reference to their Lord and Master, was

Online LibraryJohn WilsonUnitarian principles confirmed by Trinitarian testimonies : being selections from the works of eminent theologians belonging to orthodox churches → online text (page 52 of 55)