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Noah Worcester.

Bible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of online

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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 10 of 19)
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Divine honors, the fulness there is in Christ is a reason why
we should honor the Son even as we honor the Father-
that is, so far as Divine fulness is the ground of Divine
honors.

3. The Son of God is worthy of Divine honors, on the
ground of his Divine offices. It is a dictate of reason and
revelation, that official character should be respected and



On the real Divinity artd&fyrfy ^fChrl^ : 99
, \ * ' * J * "' ' ' >

honored. And the higher tKd qifioe 3$y ,prsoi* sipsfttins
by right, the greater are the'hon^r%AV?Kicfi>aY<^>du orTthe
ground of official character. The official character of a
General demands higher honors than that of a corporal
the official character of the President of the United States
demands higher honors than that of an ordinary civil magis-
trate. And on the same principle, Divine honors are due
to the SON of God : for his offices are truly Divine. The
offices of SAVIOR, JUDGE, and LORD OF ALL, are as truly
Divine offices as any offices sustained by God the Father.
And if there be any reason to give Divine honors to God
in view of his Divine offices, there is the same reason to
give Divine honors to the Son of God : for the Son has not
obtained these offices by violence or usurpation, but by the
pleasure of God, who had an unquestionable right to bestow
them. And if he truly possess those offices by the gift of the
Father, so far as official character may be a ground of DI-
VINE HONORS, Christ is as worthy of Divine honors as
though he had possessed the same offices by self-existence.
Therefore, on the ground of official character, we may
honor the Son even as ive honor the Father.

4. The Son of God is worty of DIVINE HONORS, on the
ground of DIVINE WORKS. Creation is a Divine work ;
and by him were all things created. Upholding and gov-
erning the world is a Divine work ; and he upholdeth all
things by the word of his power ;* and he is Lord of all.
Salvation is a Divine work ; and God hath exalted him,
to be a PRINCE and a SAVIOR The price of redemption,
he has personally paid ; and he is made Head over all
things to the church. Judging the world is a Divine work ;
and the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son.
It is indeed a truth, that God does all these things by his
Son ; but the Son is the real agent or doer of these things,
as tru y as Paul was the author of the Epistles to Timothy.

It is a principle of reason and common sense, as well as
of revelation, that great and excellent works are a proper
ground of honor. Whea the Elders of the Jews came to



* Heb. i. 3. In his Family Expositor, Dr. Doddridge express-
es the opinion, that the phrase " his fiowtr" intends the flower
qf 'the Father ; and the construction of the sentence is in favor of
his opinion. But this is no objection to the iuea, that the power,
by which the world is upheld, is also truly Christ's flower. It is
the fiowe r of God, originally and independently, and th
ej' Christ by the pleasure of the Father.



10O On. the real -Dipbiity and Glory of Christ.

Christ to request fayor in behalf of the Centurion, whose
Sf rvantvirtrs STC'K,' in rompendation of the Centurion the
Elders said, That " he is worthy for wHom he should do
this ; for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a syna-
gogue." What honors have been paid to Washington^ on
the ground not only of the important offices he sustained,
but on the ground of the important works he performed !
Now, if more honor has been due to Washington on the
ground of his works, than has been due to the meanest
soldier in his arjiiy, or the meanest peasant in community,
Divine honors are due to Christ on the ground of his Divine-
works. A greater than Washington is here ; one who has
done greater things ; one who hath 'oved our race, and
b.uilt us a world, and filled it with the fruits of his kind-
ness ; yea, one who hath so loved us as to give himself^ his
own life, for our redemption. But God raised him from
the dead, and lfc exalted him w'th his own r.ght hand."-
God viewed him worthv of Divine honors, on the ground
of what he had done, u wherefore God hath highly exalted
him, and given him a name above every name, that at the
name of Jesus every knee should bow" If it was not im-
proper for G >d to place the Son on his own right hand, it
is not improper for us to pay Divine honors to his name.

From the evidence we have in the sacred writings, that
Divine honors are to be paid to the Son of God, it has been
inferred, that the Son is personally the self-existent God.
And so confident have some been that this inference is in-
fal'ibly correct, that they have ventured, on the supposition
it be not so, to implicate the Christian world in a charge of
gross idolatry, and the God of truth in a charge of self-
contradiction and inconsistency. Is not this, Sir, for fal-
lible creatures, carrying things to a great length? And
does it not imply such a degree of confidence in the correct-
ness of their own understandings, as none should possess
until they arrive to that state where they shall see as they
shall be seen, and know as they shall be known ?

But what, S r, is the ground on which th!s extraordina-
ry confidence rests ? Is it not a principle, taken for grant-
ed, which has no real foundation in reason, analogy, or the
word of God ? Yea, a principle which is contradicted by
analogy, and by as plain representations as are contained in
the Oracles of truth ? The principle taken for granted is
this, That it is impossible with God to constitute a CHARAC*



On the real Divimty and Glory qf Christ. 101

TFR which shall t>2 worth V T of Divine honors ; therefore, if
Jesus Christ be not personally the sUf-exi^tem G^d,;h^ vai-
not be an object of Divine honors.

But, Sir, be pleased to admit, for one moment, the pos-
sibility that Christ is just su -'h a Person and character as I
have supposed him to be truly the SON of the LIVING GOD,
God's OWN and ONLY SON a Son in whom it hath pleased
the Father that all fulness should dwell one trulv united to
Deity, and by God Invested with the Divine offices of Sa~
vior, Lord, and Judge : What but Divine honors are due
to his name

What says analogy ? -By David's pleasure, we behold
Solomon placed on the throne of Israel ; and we see the
friends of David and of Solomon giving him the honors
which were due to the son of David and King of Israel.-**
We also see the SON OF GOD^ " for the suffering of drath*
crowned with glory and honor, 1 ' seatr d oil the right hand
of the Majesty on high, exa'tt-cl by God, as Lord of all ;
and sh^ll we pronounce it idolatry to pay him Divine honors
as the SON OF GOD, and the constituted LORD of the universe ?
Or sha'l we arraign the conduct of God, and pronounce it
absurd for him thus to exalt his oir.v S"N ?

But what saith the Scriptures ? When they represent
Christ as an object of Divine honors, do they not uniform-
ly represent him as a Person as distinct from GOD as he is
from the FATHER ? Is there one instance in which he is
represented as the self-existent God, and on that ground
worshipped ? In regard to those declarations of the Di-
vine will respecting the honoring of Christ, or the worship-
ping of Christ, is he not in the plainest manner distinguish-
ed from the self-existent God ? All judgment was COM-
MITTED unto HIM by the FATHER, that ail men should
honor the SON even as they honor the FATHER. Was he
not a Being distinct from the one who committed all judg-
ment unto him ? In the connexion, he calls that Being his
FATHER ; and Peter says, that Christ commanded his dis-
ciples to preach and to testify that it is HE who is ord in-
ed of God to be the Judge of the quick and the dead. There-
fore, when he is honored as the Judge, he is honored as
one ordained of GOD. He is then, in this case, plainly
distinguished from God. It was God also who brought
him into the world, as the ONLY BEGOTTEN, and said, " Let
all the Angels of God worship HIM." It was God also



102 '-On the rev! Divinity and Glory of Christ.



who tf EXALTED-wiM;;" aritl'God gave him the name which
is 'ah'oVeevery -name, that at the name pf Jesus EVERY KNEE
SHOULD BOW. In all these cases, the Son is as dearly dis-
tinguished from GOD, as Solomon is, in any place, distin-
guished from David.

As there is no declaration importing that Christ should
be worshipped or honored as being personally the self-ex-
istent God, we may perhaps find, that, in the examples of
Worshipping Christ, he was honored or worshipped as
a Being distinct from God. When he had stilled
the tempest, they that were in the ship came and v or-
shipped him, saying, " Of a truth thou art the SON of
God." And in several instances he was worshipped under
this title. By the woman of Canaan he was worshipped as
the LorJ, the Son of David. Can any person of candor
and discernment suppose, that in either of these cases he
was considered as personally the self-existent God ? The
terms they use-d certainly import no such thing. To he the
SON of God, and to be the self-existent GOD, are ideas as
distinct as DAVID and the SON of David. The Angels
were notrequ red to worship him as the self-existent God ;
but the self-existent God required them to worship Christ
as the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. When John, in the
Revelations, gives us such a striking representation of the
worship or Divine honors paid by all the Angels and Saints
to Christ as the LAMB OF GOD, the LAMB, in the represen*
tations, is clearly distingu shed from God as another intel-
ligent Being as one who had been SLAIN as ONE who
had redeemed us to GOD by his blood. No one, it is hoped,
will pretend, that God, t he self-existent, was ever slain ;
yet when Divine honors were paid the LAMB, the Angels
and the redeemed of the Lord said, " Worthy is the Lamb
that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,
and strength, and honor, and glory, and bless'ng."

There is not, perhaps, a more striking representation of
Divine honors paid to the Son of God, in any part of the
Bible, than those which are given by John in the Revela-
tions ; yet all those honors were paid to one who could sa)^,
" I am HE that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I live
forevermore ;" and to one whom the worshippers consider-
ed as having been slain. Then, as true as it is that God
was never personally dead, so true it is that Jesus Christ
may receive Divine honors as an intelligent Being, person-
ally distinct from GOD.



On the real Divinity and Glory ofChrkt.

It may not be amiss here to notice an extraordinary idea
Suggested by Mr. Jones, in regard to the LAMB. Speak-
ing upon these words, " Thou wast slain, and hast redeem-
ed us to God by thy blood/' and feeling the impropriety of
supposing that God suffered and died, he informs us that by
the Lamb is intended u the Messiahs humanity" [p. 32.]
That the title LAMB includes the Messiah's humanity, is not
denied ; but that the term LAMB means the Messiah's
humanity in contradistinction to his own proper nature as
the SON OF GOD, may not be admitted. If the name Lamb
mean the " Messiah's humanity" in the sense suggested by
Mr. Jones, we may properly substitute the terms the
44 Messiah's humanity" whenever the word Lamb is used as
denoting Christ.

Let us then make use of the substitute in the connexion
from which Mr. Jones selected the text.

" And I beheld, and lo, 'n the midst of the throne stood
the " Messiahs humanity" as it had been slain, having
seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of
God : And he came and took the book And when he had
taken the book, the four beasts and the four and twenty
elders fell down before the " Messiahs humanity" and
they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the
book, and to open the seals thereof ; for thou wast slain,
&c. worthy is the u Messiah? s humanity" that was slain,
to receive power, &c. Blessing, and honor, and power,
unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the " Messiah's
humanity" forever and ever." Rev. ch. v.

To such absurdity, Sir, are great and good men some-
times reduced, in attempting to support a theory in op-
position to the plain import of Scripture language. Had
Mr. Jones duly regarded the natural meaning of the terms
the Son of God, and believed that he was made in the like-
ness of men by becoming the soul of a human body, that he
really suffered and died on the cross as the antitype of the
paschal Lamb, he might then have considered the LAMB,
seen by John, as the Messiah himself, and not ti\&"Messiatfa
humanity" But if an Athanasian writer may so construe
the names of the SON of God, as implicitly to represent all
the heavenly hosts as worshipping the " Messiahs humani-
ty" may I not escape censure in regard to the hypothesis
that God hath exalted his own Son and constituted him an
object of Divine honors f



104 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

What ! you may say, are we to have two Gods ? No,
Sir; my object is to prove that we have but one self-existent
God, by proving that, in the view df God, of angels, and
of saints in glory, the SON of God is an object of Divine
'worship ; not, indeed, on the ground of self -existence, but
on the ground of his dignity as God*s own and only Son 9
and the constituted Lord and Savior of the world.

But, Sir, let it be distinctly understood, and never for-
gotten, that whi e we thus honor the SON rf God, we honor
tht FATHER a ! so. Christ taught his disciples this doctr ne,
He that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me ; and he
that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. And when
he taught the Jews that the " Father hath committed all
judgment unto the Son, that all men may honor the Son
even as they honor the Father," he subjoined, " He that
honoreth not the Son, honor eth not the Father that sent
him." Arid when Paul stated to the Phi^ippians how God
had exalted his Son, and given him a name above every
name, that every knee should botv to the name of Jesus, he
let them know that the Divine honors to be paid to Christ
were " to the glory of God the Father."

On whichsoever of the grounds that have been stated, we
pay Divine honors to the Son of God, the same are, at the
Same tmie, paid to the Father.

If we honor the SON on the ground of the Father's re-
quire ment, we thus honor the Father.

If we honor the Son on the principle of derived dignity
as the SON OF GOD, the character of the Father is the
primary ground of the honors paid to the Son.

If we pay Divine honors to Christ on this ground, that
" in him dwelleth a 1 the fulness of the Godhead," we honor
the fulness of the Father, as truly as when the Person of
the Father is immediately honored.

It we honor the Son on the ground of his official charac-
ter and the Divine authority he possesses by the pleasure
of the Father, as the constituted Savior, Lord, and Judge
of the world, it is not only the authority of the SON, but the
FATHER'S AUTHORITY IN HIM, which we honor and adore.

If we honor him on the ground of his Divine works as
Creator and Lord, the FATHER IN HIM does the work.

If we honor the Son on the ground of his abasement, suf-
fering, and death, for our sakes, we are at the same time
to remember, that " GOD so loved the world, t* HE



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 105

GAVE his ONLY BEGOTTEN SON" and that it is " UNTO
GOD" that the Son hath redeemed us by his blood.

Therefore, in every point of view, and on every ground,
the Divine honors which are paid to the SON are " to the
glory of God the Father."

Is it not, Sir, surprizing, that Christian writers should
have been so unguarded as to assert, that if Jesus Christ
be not personally and truly the self-existent God, then the
Christian church in all ages have been guilty of u gross
idolatry ;" and that the religion of Christ " is so far from
destroying idolatry, that it is only a more refined and dan*
gerous species of it ?" If such writers have incautiously
implicated themselves in a charge of idolatry, it is hoped
they will not blame me for that. To accuse them of
idolatry, or to view them as guilty of it, is far from me*
For though the correctness of their views, in respect to the
ground on which Divine honors are due to the Son of God,
is doubted, yet in my view they have not given him more
honor than is due to his name. They may have, indeed,
in support of their theory, said things respecting the per-
sonal self-existence and independence of the Son of God,
which are more than are true j but it is doubted whether
any Christian on earth, in his devotional views and feel-
ings, ever ascribed so much real excellency and glory to
Christ, as are properly due to his name.

If you, Sir, entertain the idea, that nay views of the
real excellency, glory, and love of Christ, have been lower-
ed down by adopting the present theory, be assured that
the very reverse of your apprehensions is the truth. While
supporting your theory, and speaking conformably to it,
my language imported ideas respecting Christ which now
appear incorrect. But it is one thing to adopt forms of
speech of high import, and another to have distinct and
impressive ideas of real majesty, dignity, and glory. And
while . formerly using language which imported the self-
existence and independence of Christ, my ideas respecting
his greatness and glory, as a distinct Person from the
Father, were very confused and indistinct. For it was
impossible for me to form a definite idea of what could be
meant by Person, on the theory of three Persons in one God
or one Being. The Son of God, as united to the man or
human nature of Christ, was to me a certain something^
about -which the terms self-existence and independence v/tre
O



106 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

used by me as by others, but of which no definite idea was
conceived, any more than of that in bodies which is called
the principle or power of attraction; excepting. when, by
the aid of analogy, the Son of God was viewed as a distinct
intelligent Being. But as this was contrary to the theory,
when that occurred my mind was necessarily confused.
But on the present theory, the natural import of Scripture
language, in view of analogies, affords me ideas of the
Majesty, the Glory, the Dignity, and the Love of Christ,
far more distinct, exalted, and impressive, than any which
ever entered my mind on Athanasian ground.

It is not, however, Sir, my intention to intimate that
your views, and the views of other Athanasians, respecting
Christ, are not greater, and in some respects much more
clear, than my own present views. My object has been
simply to state the effect of the present theory on my own
mind. And for this reasofl it is perceived that some
have apprehended that the character of the SON OF GOD
must have been depreciated in my own view.

Here it may be proper to notice more particularly the
self-contradiction and inconsistency, in which it has been
supposed God must be involved if his Son be not self-
existent The parts of the supposed contradiction are of
the following tenor, viz.

On the one hand, God has positively prohibited the
worship of idols, or any god but himself. He has said,
*' I am God, and there is none else. Thou shalt have no
other gods before me." " I am the Lord, that is my
name, and my glory I will not give to another, neither my
praise to graven images."

On the other hand, God said respecting his Son, " Let
all the angels of God worship him" And he has given
him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow.

In view of such passages, it has been inferred that Christ
is personally the same God who has made these declara-
tions,, or there must be a contradiction. To show that
nutter of these inferences is correct, is the design of the
following observations.

1. If Jesus Christ be truly the SON of the self-existent
God, he is neither a graven linage^ an idol, nor a false god-.
Hence,



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 107

2. A prohibition respecting the worship of graven im-
ages, or idols, or false gods, amounts to no prohibition of
paying Divine honors to the Son of God, as the Son of God,
or the constituted Lord of the universe. Therefore,

3. Consistently with all that God has said in the Bible
against the worship of graven images, of idols, or of false
gods, he might exalt his Son, and require men and angels
to pay Divine honors to his name.

It may still be thought, . that if the Son be not the self-
existent God, but has been exalted by the self-existent God
as an object of Divine honors, then God has given his glory
to another, contrary to his own word. It may therefore be
observed,

4. For God to give his glory to another, in the sense
of the text alluded to, must imply doing something respect-
ing another or authorizing something to be done respecting
another, which is dishonorary to himse ; f. To glorify
another, or to cause another to be glorified, in a manner
which contributes to his own glory, is perfectly consistent
with his declaration that he will not give his glory to another.
To make out, then, that there is so much as the shadow of
a contradiction in the case, it must be made to appear, that
to pay Divine honors to the Son of God, as the SON OF
GOD, and the one in whom the Father is ever well pleased,
is dishonorary to the Father. But to prove this, will be
a task which probably very few will venture to undertake.

By those who have urged this supposed contradiction,
has it not been taken for granted, that the Son of God may
be a distinct Person from God the Father, and yet the self-
same Being f And should this, Sir, be taken for granted ?
But if it be, still the texts which they rely upon for the sup-
port of the supposed contradiction, do as fully import a
prohibition of Divine honors to any other Person but the
one who made the declarations, as to any other Being.
In those texts God does not represent himself as three Per-
sons, but as one individual Person u /am God, and there
is none else Thou shalt have no other gods before me*-
I am the Lord, and my glory /will not give to another."
Therefore, if these passages amount to a prohibition of
paying Divine honors to the Son of God, as being truly the
SON of God, they equally prohibit paying Divine honors to
the Son considered as a distinct Person from the Father,,
whether self-existent or not. The self-same Person is repre-



iOS On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

sented as saying at one time, /am the LorJ, and my glory I
will not give to another... At another time he says respecting
the Person who is called his only begotlen Son, " Let all
the Angels of God worship him." And, if these passages
would involve a contradiction on the hypothesis that the
Son is a Person truly DERIVID from the Father, they in-
volve precisely the same contradiction on the hypothesis
that the Son is a self-existent Person DISTINCT from the
Father*

Having thus endeavored to show, from the Scriptures,
that Divine honors are due to the Son of God, and the
grounds on which they are due, and also to obviate what
has been viewed by some as insurmountable objections to
the theory, you will suffer me now to appeal to your own
conscience, and ask, whether my views of the honors due
to the Son of God do not harmonize with your own prac-
tical views and feelings, and with your usual forms of speech
\nprayer and praise ? Reflections on my own former
views and feelings, and observations in regard to the pray-
ers of my Athanasian brethren, encourage me to do this.

In respect to my own experience, adopting the present
theory has given no occasion to vary my forms of speech
from what was natural and usual with me before, in regard
to the Son of God. And it is observed, that the prayers of
my Athanasian brethren, so far as the Son is mentioned,
agree with my present views ; excepting when they appear
to wish to introduce some particular expressions to commu-
nicate or support their particular theory. It may not then
be amiss to class myself with you and them, and observe
how we pray.

We occasionally address petitions to Christ as the Son
of God, the Lord of all, the Redeemer of our souls, or the
Head of the church. We sometimes distinctly thank him
for his kindness and mercy in laying down his life for our
redemption ; and for the benefits we receive through his
mediation and atonement. But in this particular, perhaps
we are generally deficient ; and much less frequently bring
the Son into view in our prayers than would be proper. In
our ascriptions of praise, at the close of our prayers, we


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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 10 of 19)