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no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ;” he was "perfect through sufferings.” We are told that “ He went about doing good, and healing all that were possessed of the devil, for God was with him." He was termed “the Holy One and the Just;” and whereas it had been objected against him, in his lifetime, that he was "a friend of publicans and sinners,” this very imputation was regarded, after his death, as his chief glory, seeing that he came “to seek and save the lost,” that he so loved sinners as to die to save them from their sins, hence arose the cry, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” He was accounted “a man approved of God by powers and wonders and signs;' "Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee." It is said that he was believed to be " John the Baptist risen from the dead,” or, by others, one of the ancient prophets revisiting the earth.
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." "God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” “He is Lord of all.” “Lord of lords, and King of kings." “For he must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.” “And when all things have been subjected
” unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.” For at the end, he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, after the final judgment of men. “For we shall all
stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” But it is, moreover, asserted of him,* that he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him, and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.” And again, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Nor is this all, for we find in the fourth Gospel Divinity itself, in a sense, ascribed to the Nazarene, thus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." We also find that the exclamation, "My Lord and my God!" is affirmed to have been uttered by the hitherto incredulous disciple Thomas, about eight days after the resurrection.
Some three centuries after his death, the Church, by her representatives assembled at Nicæa, succeeded in stating in what sense she affirmed Godhood of Jesus, and what, in the main, was her belief concern- . ing him. Thus
“ I believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father: by whom all things were made, who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead : whose kingdom shall have no end."
* Col. i. 15-17.
Thus we see it was affirmed of Jesus—Ist. That he was the only-begotten Son of God. 2nd. That he was God. 3rd. That he, God, became man. Are we, then, to understand that the Church, in the Nicene Creed, affirms "the conversion of the Godhead into flesh," into manhood ? No; to prevent this, and other misconceptions, she has promulgated another creed still more strictly defining the nature of Jesus. So we find, in the series of propositions "commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius," the following respecting Jesus :
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man ; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the Worlds ;
and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world ; perfect God and perfect Man ; of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting ; equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead ; and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood. Who, although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God; one altogether, not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.”
These beliefs are still confessed by the vast majority of Christians, but they do not command universal assent.
Many of those who, while admitting the authority of the New Testament, reject that of the Church, prefer to express their belief concerning their Galilean King in the language of the New Testament, and while confessing faith in his Divinity and in his birth from a virgin, think it safer to affirm, instead of either the Nicene or Athanasian propositions, that “Our Lord Jesus Christ was both the Son of Man and the Son of God.” Passing over the Arian and other controversies of the early Church, we come down to heretical Christians of the present day, who, while still holding that " Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," reject the doctrine of his Godhead, and usually term themselves "Unitarians," many of them adding "of the old school.” Of these there are probably few who still admit the doctrine of the Incarnation, and the Arianism of Milton and Channing. "Milton taught,” says Dr. Channing, 1825, “that the Son of God is a distinct being from God, and inferior to him, that he existed before the world was made, that he is the first of the creation of God, and that afterwards all other things were made by him, as the instrument or minister of his Father."
But most of the “old school Unitarians,” together with a sprinkling of persons frequenting the places of worship of other denominations and in America, France, Germany, and Holland, in some cases forming
the majority—believe Jesus to have been “simply and truly a human being," and they avoid some scriptural expressions concerning him as misleading.
“Who, then," asks the Swedenborgian, “ was that dread, mysterious one that walked the earth more than eighteen centuries since, and whose appearance was the signal for a contest of opinions which has widened and extended to our own day?" And, speaking in the name of the New Church, he replies to his own query—“Without hesitation or ambiguity, He was God manifest in the flesh. We have no knowledge or conception of any other; we worship no other; we pray to no other for his sake." Thus they say, “Jesus is Jehovah," and worship “Jesus only." He is to them not merely “the Second Person in the ever-blessed Trinity,” but the Trinity entire.
Amid all this variety and conflict of opinion and belief respecting the Nazarene, to which side shall we incline? Or shall we bow down before an image, intended to represent his “virgin mother," and, addressing her as “Mother of God,” ask her to influence her Son in our behalf? And shall we also reverently regard as his “vicegerent on earth,” the present excellent occupier of the Vatican, or his successor good or bad ? No; it is difficult in these days to ask such questions seriously, and we thus summarily dismiss them from our consideration.
Having sufficiently heard the Church, let us turn to the masses of our countrymen, or their kinsmen