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he was about to establish; and introduced his subject in language suited to the purpose, and peculiarly calculated to attract the attention of his readers. “God,” says he, “at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets.” He thus reminds them of the inspiration of their Sacred Volume, and consequently, of the unquestionable truth of all that it contains; and having laid this foundation as the sure basis on which he could build with success, because what he proved out of their Scriptures they could not possibly object to, he proceeds to contrast the superiority of the Messenger of the New Covenant over all the servants and instruments of the Old. “God, who spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." It is a remarkable feature in this Epistle, that the author of it never once enters into controversy on any of those points on which the Jews were always disputing with our blessed Lord. His single purpose is to prove by their own canonical writings, that Jesus was the Son of God, because he fulfilled the prophecies which were always applied to the Messiah, he realised the types and shadows of the Law which prefigured him, and he accomplished those objects in his ministry and death, which were illustrative of the office of that expected Deliverer. “ Heir of all things,” is the natural right of an only son who can claim by descent his father's inheritance; and “Creator of the Worlds" is a title which belongs only to Omnipotence. But the Apostle goes on, “who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Now these words contain three propositions which it is my design to investigate.
to investigate. First, the divinity of our blessed Lord and his supreme power; Secondly, His purification of mankind by his own blood; and Thirdly, His session, in consequence of it, at the right hand of God.
I. First, of the divinity of our blessed Lord and his supreme power.
Our blessed Lord's divinity is the corner-stone of his Church. Either he was the Son of God, equal with the Father, and God, or the whole framework of St. Paul's argument in this celebrated Epistle, falls at once to the ground. The Apostle, therefore, in the opening of his discourse, lays it down as a fundamental truth, that Christ was higher than the angels, because, if this be clearly established, his divine origin, and his consequent superiority to all created beings, must be incontestable. Having said of Christ that he was made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they,” he proceeds immediately to compare their respective states and offices. The title conferred upon Christ was
that of the only-begotten Son of God. And
And “unto which of the angels said God at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” Angels are, in a restricted sense, denominated Sons of God, but Christ is styled, “ the only-begotten of the. Father,” begotten before all worlds.
If a son
be greater than a servant in the family, Christ must be superior to the angels, because they are, as the very term imports, messengers only, sent by their Lord to do his will, whereas Christ, as heir of all, partakes of his Father's nature and attributes, and shares with him an equality of rights and prerogatives. Hence the creation of the world is ascribed to him, not as an instrument or agent deriving delegated authority from a superior, but as an independent and omnipotent being, who of his own will and power called the world into existence. Of the angels the Psalmist saith, God “ maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire;" that is, the angels are mere creatures, like the winds and the flame, which go as they are directed. unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” “ And, 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 remainest; and they all shall 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.” Nay, so striking is the superiority of Christ to all
the angelic host, that on the morning of the resurrection, when death and hell were vanquished, and the Lord of Life returned in triumph from the grave, those blessed spirits were commanded to render to him all the reverence due to infinite Majesty ; for when God brought the first-begotten from the dead into the world again," he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.” Besides, the different ranks and honours to which they were elevated, shows the essential difference of their states and offices. For when Christ was raised from the dead, he was exalted to the right hand of God, “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come ; and hath put all things under his feet.” But to which of the angels said God at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” If, then, Christ, as the Mediator, was exalted to the highest pitch of pre-eminence, and all power was given to him, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,” it is plain that he must be higher than the highest angel, and consequently far above every creature, since he exercises supreme sway over all created beings. “For unto. the angels hath he (God) not put in subjection the world to come.” “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower
than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour,” and set over the works of God's hands. For God hath put all things in subjection under his feet, and given him to be Head over all things to his Church. His title, therefore, to the service of the angels, and to the worship of all creatures subordinate to them, stands unquestioned, and every one is bound to “honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."
The difficulty which hangs over the divinity of our blessed Lord, results from the twofold character he sustained as Son of God, and Son of Man. As Son of God, his eternal generation makes him heir of all things, one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, very God of very God, of the same essence, of the same attributes, of the same existence, consubstantial with the first and the third persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, united to them in a way which no words can describe, and acting with them in a method which no imagination can conceive. As Son of Man, he was born into the world, took upon
him our nature, lived and died as a man, was raised again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and received in virtue of his sufferings, honour, and glory, and power.
In this character he fulfils an office, that of the only Mediator between God and man; and it is this office which the Apostle has in view throughout his Epistle to the Hebrews. As Son of God, he created the worlds. As Son of Man, he redeemed our unhappy race. As Lord of all, he was the brightness of his Father's glory,