By Richard Watson
DIVINE WORSHIP PAID TO CHRIST.
FROM Christ's own acts we may pass to those of his disciples and particularly to one which unequivocally marks their opinion respecting his Divinity: they worship him as a Divine person, and they enjoin this also upon Christians to the end of time. If Christ, therefore, is not God, the apostles were idolaters, and Christianity is a system of impiety. This is a point so important as to demand a close investigation.
The fact that Divine worship was paid to Christ by his disciples must be first established. Instances of falling down at the feet of Jesus and worshipping him are so frequent in the Gospel, that it is not necessary to select the instances which are so familiar; and though we allow that the word proskunein is sometimes used to express that lowly reverence with which, in the east, it has been always customary to salute persons considered as greatly superior, and especially rulers and sovereigns, it is yet the same word which, in a great number of instances, is used to express the worship of the supreme GOD. We are, then, to collect the intention of the act of worship, whether designed as a token of profound civil respect, or of real and Divine adoration, from the circumstances of the instances on record. When a leper comes and "WORSHIPS" Christ, professing to believe that he had the power of healing diseases, and that in himself, which power he could exercise at his will, all which he expresses by saying, "Lord, if thou WILT, thou CANST make me clean," we see a Jew retaining that faith of the Jewish Church in its purity, which had been corrupted among so many of his nation, that the Messiah was to be a Divine person; and, viewing our Lord under that character, he regarded his miraculous powers as original and personal, and so hesitated not to worship him. Here then, is a case in which the circumstances clearly show that the worship was religious and supreme. When the man who had been cured of blindness by Jesus, and who had defended his prophetic character before the council, before he knew that he had a higher character than that of aprophet, was met in private by Jesus, and instructed in the additional fact, that he was "THE SON OF GOD," he worshipped him. "Jesus heard, that they had cast him out, and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is be, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe, and be WORSHIPPED him :"-worshipped him, be it observed, under his character, "Son of God," a title which, we have already seen, was regarded by the Jews as implying actual Divinity, and which the man understood to raise Jesus far above the rank of a mere prophet. The worship paid by this man must, therefore, in its intention, have been supreme, for it was offered to an acknowledged Divine person, the Son of God. When the disciples, fully yielding to the demonstration of our Lord's Messiahship, arising out of a series of splendid miracles, recognized him also under his personal character. "they came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of GOD!" Matt. xiv, 33. When Peter, upon the miraculous draught of fishes, "fell at his feet," and said, "Depart from me, fir I am a sinful man, 0 Lord," these expressions themselves mark as strongly the awe and apprehension which is produced in the breast of a sinful man, when he feels himself in the presence of Divinity itself, as when Isaiah exclaims, in his vision of the Divine glory, "Wo is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell among a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
The circumstances then, which accompany these instances make it evident, that the worship here paid to our Lord was of the highest order; and they will serve to explain several other cases in the Gospels, similar in the act, though not accompanied with illustrative circumstances so explicit. But there is one general consideration of importance which applies to them all. Such acts of lowly prostration as are called worship were chiefly paid to civil governors. Now our Lord cautiously avoided giving the least sanction to the notion that he had any civil pretensions, and that his object was to make himself king. It would, therefore, have been a marked inconsistency to suffer himself to be saluted with the homage and prostration proper to civil governors, and which, indeed, was not always in Judea, rendered to them. lie did not receive this homage, then, under the character of a civil ruler or sovereign; and under what character could he receive it? Not in compliance with the haughty custom of the Jewish rabbis, who exacted great external reverence from their disciples, for he sharply reproved their haughtiness and love of adulation and honour: not as a simple teacher of religion, for his apostles might then have imitated his example, since, upon the Socinian hypothesis of his mere manhood, they, when they had collected disciples and founded Churches, had as clear a right to this distinction as he himself, had it only been one of appropriate and common courtesy sanctioned by their master. But when do we read of their receiving worship without spurning it on the very ground that they were MEN of like passions" w ith others? How, then, is it to be accounted for, that our Lord never forbade or discouraged this practice as to himself, or even shunned it ? In no other way than that he was conscious of his natural right to the homage thus paid; and that he accepted it as the expression of a faith which, though sometimes wavering, because of the obscurity which darkened the minds of his followers, and which even his own conduct, mysterious as it necessarily was, till he openly showed himself" after his passion, tended to produce, yet sometimes pierced through the cloud, and saw and acknowledged, in the Word made flesh, " the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
But to proceed with instances of worship subsequent to our Lord's resurrection and ascension: "lie was parted from them, and carried up into heaven, and they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy," Luke xxiv, 51, 52. Here the act must necessarily have been one of Divine adoration, since it was performed after "lie was parted from them," and cannot be resolved into the customary token of personal respect paid to superiors. This was always done in the presence of the superior; never by the Jews in his absence.
When the apostles were assembled to fill up the place of Judas, the lots being prepared, they pray, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these men thou hast chosen." That this prayer is addressed to Christ is clear, from its being his special prerogative to choose his own disciples, who, therefore, sty led themselves "apostles," not of the Father, but " of Jesus Christ." Here, then, is a direct act worship. because an act of prayer ; and our Lord is addressed as he who "knows the hearts of all men." Nor is this more than lie himself claims in the Revelation, " And all the Churches shall know that I am lie that searcheth the reins and the heart."
When Stephen, the protomartyr, was stoned, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles records two instances of prayer offered to our Lord by this man " full of the Holy Ghost," and therefore, according to this declaration, under plenary inspiration. "LORD Jesus! Reveive My SPIRIT!" "LORD, LAY Not This Sin TO THEIR CHARGE!" In the former he acknowledges Christ to be the disposer of the eternal states of men: in the latter, lie acknowledges him to be the governor and judge of men, having power to remit, pass by, or visit their sins. All these are manifestly Divine acts, which sufficiently show, that St. Stephen addressed his prayers to Christ as God. The note from Lindsay, inserted in the Socinian version, shows the manner in which the Socinians attempt to evade this instance of direct prayer being offered by the apostles to Christ. "This address of Stephen to Jesus, when lie actually saw him, does not authorize us to offer prayers to him now he is invisible." And this is seriously alleged! How does the circumstance of an object of prayer and religious worship being seen or unseen alter the case? May a man, when seen, be an object of prayer, to whom, unseen, it would be unlawful to pray? The papists, if this were true, would find a new refutation of their practice of invocating dead saints furnished by the Socinians. Were they alive and seen, prayer to them would be lawful; but now they are invisible, it is idolatry Even image worship would derive, from this casuistry, a sort of apology, as the seen image is, at least, the visible representation of the invisible saint or angel. But let the case be put fairly: suppose a dying person to pray to a man, visible and near his bed, " Lord, receive my spirit: Lord, lay not sin to the charge of my enemies," who sees not that this would be gross idolatry? And yet if Jesus be a mere man, the idolatry is the same, though that man be in heaven. It will not alter the case, for the Socinian to say that the man Jesus is exalted to great dignity and rule in the invisible world ; for lie is, after all, on their showing, but a servant ; not a dispenser of the eternal states of men, not an avenger or a passer by of sin, in his own right, that lie should lay sin to the charge of any one, or not lay it, as lie might be desired to do by a disciple ; and if St. Stephen had these views of him, he would not, surely, have asked of a serrant, what a servant had no power to grant. Indeed, the Socinians themselves give tip the point, by denying that Christ is lawfully the object of prayer. There, however, he is prayed to, beyond all controversy, and his right and power to dispose of the disembodied spirits of men is as much recognized in the invocation of the dying Stephen, as the same right and power in the Father, in the last prayer of our Lord himself: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
To Dr. Priestley's objection, that this is an inconsiderable instance, and is to be regarded as a mere ejaculation, Bishop Horsley forcibly replies: "St. Stephen's short ejaculatory address you had not forgotten; but you say it is very inconsiderable. But, sir, why is it inconsiderable? Is it because it was only an ejaculation? Ejaculations are often prayers of the most fervid kind; the most expressive of self abasement and adoration. Is it for its brevity that it is inconsiderable? What, then, is the precise length of words which is requisite to make a prayer an act of worship? Was this petition preferred on an occasion of distress, on which a Divinity might be naturally invoked? Was it a petition for a succour which none but a Divinity could grant? If this was the case, it was surely an act of worship. Is the situation of the worshipper the circumstance which, in your judgment, sir, lessens the authority of his example? You suppose, perhaps, some consternation of his faculties, arising from distress and fear. The history justifies no such supposition. It describes the utterance of the final prayer, as a deliberate act of one who knew his situation, and possessed his understanding. After praying for himself, he kneels down to pray for his persecutors: and such was the composure with which he died, although the manner of his death was the most tumultuous and terrifying, that as if he had expired quietly upon his bed, the sacred historian says, that 'he fell asleep.' If, therefore, you would insinuate, that St. Stephen was not himself, when he sent forth this 'short ejaculatory address to Christ,' the history refutes you. If he was himself, you cannot justify his prayer to Christ, while you deny that Christ is God, upon any principle that might not equally justify you or me, in praying to the blessed Stephen. If St. Stephen, in the full possession of his faculties, prayed to him who is no God, why do we reproach the Romanist, when he chaunts the litany of his saints?"
St. Paul, also, in that affliction, which he metaphorically describes by "a thorn in the flesh," "sought the Lord thrice" that it might depart from him; awl the answer shows that "the LORD," to whom he addressed his prayer, was CHRIST; for he adds, "and he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness: most gladly, therefore, will I glory in my infirmities, that the POWER OF Christ may rest upon me;" clearly signifying the power of him who had said, in answer to his prayer, "My strength, dunami~, power, is made perfect in weakness."
St. Paul also prays to Christ, conjointly with the Father, in behalf of the Thessalonians. "Now our LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good work," 2 Thess. ii, 16, 17. In like manner he invokes our Lord to grant his spiritual presence to Timothy: "The Lord Jesus be with thy spirit," 2 Tim. iv, 22. The invoking of Christ is, indeed, adduced by St. Paul as a distinctive characteristic of Christians, so that among all the primitive Churches this practice must have been universal. "Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to he saints, with all that IN EVERY PLACE CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST our Lord, both theirs and ours," 1 Cor. i, 2. "It appears, from the expression here and elsewhere used, that to invocate the name of our Lord Jesus Christ was a practice characterizing and distinguishing Christians from infidels." (Dr. Benson.) Thus St. Paul is said, before his conversion, to have had "authority from the chief priests to bind all THAT CALL UPON THY NAME." The Socinian criticism is, that the phrase epikaleisqai ye onoma may be translated either "to call on the name," or be called by the name; and they, therefore, render 1 Cor. i, 2, "all that are called by the name of Jesus Christ." If, however, all that can be said in favour of this rendering is, that the verb may be rendered passively, how is it that they choose to render it actively in all places, except where their system is to be served ? This itself is suspicious. But it is not necessary to produce the refutations of this criticism given by several of their learned opponents, who have shown that the verb, followed by an accusative case, usually, if not constantly, is used, in its active signification, to call upon, to invoice. One passage is sufficient to prove both the active signification of the phrase, when thus applied, and also that to call upon the name of Christ is an act of the highest worship. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," Rom. x, 13. This is quoted from the Prophet Joel. St. Peter, in his sermon on the day of pentecost, makes use of it as a prophecy of Christ, and the argument of St. Paul imperatively requires us also to understand it of him. Now this prophecy proves that time phrase in question is used for invocation, since it is not true that whosoever shall be called by the name of the Lord will be saved, but those only who rightly call upon it; it proves also that the calling upon the name of the Lord, here mentioned, is a religious act, for it is calling upon the name of JEHovAH, the word used by the Prophet Joel, the consequence of which act of faith and worship is salvation. "This text, indeed, presents us with a double argument in favour of our Lord's Divinity. First, it applies to him what, by the Prophet Joel, is spoken of Jehovah; secondly, it affirms him to be the object of religious adoration. Either of these particulars does, indeed, imply the other; for if he be Jehovah, he must he time object of religious adoration; and if be be the object of religious adoration, he must be Jehovah." (Bishop Horne.)
In the Revelation, too, we find St. John worshipping Christ, "falling at his feet as one dead." St. Paul also declares "that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE shall bow," which, in Scripture language, signifies an act of religious worship. "For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But this homage amid adoration of Christ is not confined to men; it is practised among heavenly beings. "And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM." For time purpose of evading the force of these words, time Socinians, in their version, have chosen time absurdity of rendering aggeloi throughout this chapter, by "messengers," but in the next chapter. as though the subject would, by that time, be out of the reader's mind, they return to time common version, " angels." Thus they make tine "spirits and flames of fire," or, as they render it, "winds and flames of lightning," to be time ancient prophets or messengers, not angels; and of these same prophets anti messengers, who lived several thousand years ago, their translation affirms that they " are sent forth to minister for them who shall be (in future!) heirs of salvation." The absurdity is so apparent, that it is scarcely necessary to add, that, in time New Testament, though "angel" is sometimes applied to men, yet "angels of God" is a phrase never used, but to express an order of heavenly intelligences.
If, however, either prophets or angels were commanded to worship Christ, his Divinity would be equally proved, and, therefore, the note on this text, in time New Version teaches, that "to Worship Christ" here means to acknowledge him as their superior; and urges that the text is cited from time LXX, Deut. xxxii, 43, "where it is spoken of the Hebrew nation, and, therefore, cannot be understood of religious worship." But whoever will turn to the LXX, will see that it is not the Hebrew nation, but Jehovah, wino is exhibited in that passage as the object of worship and if, therefore, the text were cited from time book of Deuteronomy, and the genuineness of the passage in the LXX were allowed, for it is not in the present Hebrew text, it would only afford another proof, that, in the mind of time apostles, the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New are the same being, and that equal worship is due to both. We have, however, an unquestioned text in the Old Testament, Psalm xcvii, 7, from which the quotation is obviously made; where, in the Hebrew, it is " worship him all ye gods," a probable ellipsis for "the angels of the Aleim ;" for the LXX uses time word " angels." This psalm time apostle, therefore, understood of Christ, and in this the old Jewish interpreters agree with him; and though he is not mentioned in it by any of his usual Old Testament titles, except that of Jehovah, it clearly predicts the overthrow of idolatry by the introduction of the kingdom of this Jehovah. It follows then, that as idolatry was not overthrown by Judaism, but by the kingdom of Christ, it is Christ, as the head and author of this kingdom, of whom the psalmist speaks, and whom he sees receiving the worship of the angels of God upon its introduction and establishment. This, also, agrees with the words by which the apostle introduces the quotation. "And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world," the habitable world; which intimates that it was upon some solemn occasion, when engaged in some solemn act, that the angels were commanded to worship him, and this act is represented in the ninety-seventh Psalm as the establishment of his kingdom., Bishop Horsley's remarks on this psalm are equally just and beautiful.
"That Jehovah's kingdom in some sense or other is the subject of this Divine song, cannot be made a question, for thus it opens,- 'Jehovah reigneth.' The psalm, therefore, must be understood, either of God's natural kingdom over his whole creation; of his particular kingdom over the Jews, his chosen people; or of that kingdom which is called in the New Testament the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Christ. For of any other kingdom beside these three, man never heard or read. God's peculiar kingdom over the Jews cannot be the subject of this psalm, because all nations of the earth are called upon to rejoice in the acknowledgment of this great truth, 'Jehovah reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad thereof.' The many isles are the various regions of the habitable world.
"The same consideration, that Jehovah's kingdom is mentioned as a subject of general thanksgiving, proves that God's universal dominion over his whole creation cannot be the kingdom in the prophet's mind. For in this kingdom a great majority of the ancient world, the idolaters, were considered, not as subjects who might rejoice in the glory of their monarch; but as rebels who had every thing to fear from his just resentment.
"It remains, therefore, that Christ's kingdom is that kingdom of Jehovah which the inspired poet celebrates as the occasion of universal joy and this will farther appear by the sequel of the song. After four verses, in which the transcendent glory, the irresistible power, and inscrutable perfection of the Lord, who to the joy of all nations reigneth, are painted in poetical images, taken partly from the awful scene on Sinai which accompanied the delivery of the law, partly from other manifestations of God's presence with the Israelites in their journey through time wilderness, he proceeds, in time sixth verse, 'The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.' We read in the 19th Psalm, that 'the heavens declare the glory of God.' And the glory of God, time power and the intelligence of the Creator, is indeed visibly declared in the fabric of the material world. But I cannot see how the structure of the heavens can demonstrate the righteousness of God. Wisdom and power may be displayed in the contrivance of an inanimate machine; but righteousness cannot appear in the arrangement of the parts, or the direction of the motions of lifeless matter. The heavens therefore, in their external structure, cannot declare their Maker's righteousness. But the heavens, in another sense, attested the righteousness of Christ when the voice from heaven declared him the beloved Son of God, in whom the Father was well pleased; and when the preternatural darkness of the sun at the crucifixion, and other agonies of nature, drew that confession from the heathen centurion who attended the execution, that the suffering Jesus was the Son of God; 'And all the people see his glory.' The word people, in the singular, for the most part denotes God's chosen people, the Jewish nation, unless any other particular people happen to be the subject of discourse. But peoples, in the plural, is put for all the other races of mankind as distinct from the chosen people. The word here is in the plural form, 'And all the peoples see his glory.' But when, or in what did any of the peoples, the idolatrous nations, see the glory of God? Literally they never saw his glory. The effulgence of the Shechinah never was displayed to them, except when it blazed forth upon the Egyptians to strike them with a panic; or when the towering pillar of flame, which marshalled the Israelites in the wilderness, was seen by the inhabitants of Palestine and Arabia as a threatening meteor in their sky. Intellectually no idolaters ever saw the glory of God, for they never acknowledged his power and Godhead: had they thus seen his glory, they had ceased to be idolaters. But all the peoples, by the preaching of the Gospel, saw the glory of Christ. They saw it literally in the miracles performed by his apostles; they saw it spiritually when they perceived the purity of his precepts, when they acknowledged the truth of his doctrine, when they embraced the profession of Christianity, and owned Christ for their Saviour and their God. The psalmist goes on, 'Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast them. selves of idols. Worship him, all ye gods.' In the original this verse has not at all the form of a malediction, which it has acquired in our translation from the use of the strong word confounded. 'Let them be ashamed.' This is the utmost that the psalmist says. The prayer that they may be ashamed of their folly and repent of it, is very different from an imprecation of confusion. But in truth the psalmist rather seems to speak prophetically, without any thing either of prayer or imprecation -.' they shall be ashamed.' Having seen the glory of Christ they shall be ashamed of the idols, which in the times of ignorance they worshipped. In the 8th and 9th verses, looking forward to the times when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and the remnant of Israel shall turn to the Lord, he describes the daughter of Judah as rejoicing at the news of the mercy extended to the Gentile world, and exulting in the universal extent of Jehovah's kingdom, and the general acknowledgment of his Godhead." (Nine Sermons.)
The argument of the apostle is thus made clear.; he proves Christ superior to angels, and therefore Divine, because angels themselves are commanded "to worship him." Nor is this the only prophetic psalm in which the religious worship of Messiah is predicted. The 72d Psalm, alone, is full of this doctrine. "They shall YEAR thee as long as the sun and moon endure." "All kings shall WORSHIP (or, FALL DOWN) before him; all nations shall SERVE him." "PRAYER shall be made ever for (or, to) him, and daily shall he be PRAISED."
Finally, as to the direct worship of Christ, the book of Revelation, in its scenic representations, exhibits him as, equally with the Father, the object of the worship of angels and of glorified saints; and, in chapter eighth, places every creature in the universe, the inhabitants of bell only excepted, in prostrate adoration at his footstool. "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever."
To these instances are to be added, all the DOXOLOGIES to Christ, in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and all the BENEDICTIONS made in his name in common with theirs; for all these are forms of worship. The first consist of ascriptions of equal and Divine honours, with grateful recognitions of the Being addressed, as the author of benefits received; the second are a solemn blessing of others in the name of God, and were derived from the practice of the Jewish priests and the still older patriarchs, who blessed others in the name of Jehovah, as his representatives.
Of the first, the following may be given as a few out of many instances:
"The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom: to whom be GLORY for ever and ever," 2 Tim. iv, 18. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: to him be GLORY both now and for ever. Amen," 2 Pet. iii, 18. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be GLORY and DOMINION for ever and ever. Amen," Rev. i, 5,6. "When we consider the great difference between these doxologies and the commendations but sparingly given in the Scriptures to mere men; the serious and reverential manner in which they are introduced; and the superlative praise they convey, so far surpassing what humanity can deserve, we cannot but suppose that the Being to whom they refer is really Divine. The ascription of eternal glory and everlasting dominion, if addressed to any creature, however exalted, would be idolatrous and profane." (Holden's Testimonies.) Of benedictions the commencement and conclusion of several of the epistles furnish instances, so regular in their form, as to make it clearly appear, that the apostles and the priests of the New Testament constantly Messed the people ministerially in the name of Christ, as one of the blessed trinity. This consideration alone shows that the benedictions arc not, as the Socinians would take them, to be considered as cursory expressions of good will. "Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." This, with little variation, is the common form of salutation; and the usual parting benediction is, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all;" or, more fully, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." In answer to the Socinian perversion, that these are mere wishes," it has been well and wisely observed, that "this objection overlooks, or notices very slightly, the point on which the whole question turns, the nature of the blessings sought, and the qualities which they imply in the Person as whose donation they are deliberately desired. These blessings are not of that kind which one creature is competent to bestow upon another. They refer to the judicial state of an accountable being before God, to the remission of moral offences, to the production and preservation of certain mental qualities which none can efficaciously and immediately give but lie who holds the dominion of human minds and feelings, and to the enjoyments of supreme and endless felicity. They are grace, mercy, and peace. Grace, the free favour of the Eternal Majesty to those who have forfeited every claim to it, such favour as in its own nature and in the contemplation of the supplicant, is the sole and effective cause of deliverance from the greatest evils, and acquisition of the greatest good. Mercy, the compassion of infinite goodness, conferring its richest bestowments of holiness and happiness on the ruined, miserable, and helpless. Peace, the tranquil and delightful feeling which results from the rational hope of possessing these enjoyments. These are the highest blessings that Omnipotent Benevolence can give, or a dependent nature receive. To desire such blessings, either in the mode of direct address or in that of precatory wish, from any being who is not possessed of omnipotent goodness, would be, not 'innocent and proper,' but sinful and absurd in the highest degree. When, therefore, we find every apostle whose epistles are extant, pouring out his 'expressions of desire,' with the utmost simplicity and energy, for these blessings, as proceeding from 'our Lord Jesus Christ,' equally with 'God our Father,' we cannot but regard it as the just and necessary conclusion that Christ and the Father are one in the perfection which originates the highest blessings, and in the honour due for the gift of those blessings." (Smith's Person of Christ.)
So clearly does the New Testament show that supreme worship was paid to Christ, as well as to the Father; and the practice obtained as a matter of course, as a matter quite undisputed in the primitive Church, and has so continued, in all orthodox Churches, to this day. Thus heathen writers represented the first Christians as worshippers of Christ; and, as for the practice of the primitive Church, it is not necessary to quote passages from the fathers, which are so well known, or so easily found in all books which treat on this subject. It is sufficient evidence of the practice, that when, in the fourth century, the Arians taught, that our Lord was a super angelic creature only, they departed not, in the instance of worship, from the homage paid to him in the universal Church; but continued to adore Christ. On this ground the orthodox justly branded them with idolatry; and, in order to avoid the force of the charge, they invented those sophistical distinctions as to superior and inferior worship which the papists, in later times, introduced, in order to excuse the worship of saints and angels. Even the old Socinians allowed Christ to be the object of religious adoration; so impossible was it, even for them, to oppose themselves all at once to the reproving and condemning universal example of the Church of Christ in all ages.
Having, then, established the fact of the worship of Christ by his immediate followers, whose precepts and example have, in this matter, been followed by all the faithful; let us consider the religious principles which the first disciples held, in order to determine whether they could have so worshipped Christ, unless his true Divinity had been, with them, a fundamental and universally received doctrine. They were Jews; and Jews of an age in which their nation had long shaken off its idolatrous propensities, and which was distinguished by its zeal against all worship, or expressions of religious trust and hope being directed, not only to false gods, (to idols,) but to creatures. The great principle of the law was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before (or, beside) me." It was, therefore, commanded by Moses, "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and him shalt thou serve ;" which words are quoted by our Lord in his temptation, when solicited to worship Satan, so as to prove that to fear God and to serve him are expressions which signify worship, and that all other beings but God are excluded from it. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." The argument, too, in the quotation, is not that Satan had no right to receive worship because he was an evil spirit; but that, whatever he might be, or whoever should make that claim, God only is to be worshipped. By this, also, we see that Christianity made no alteration in Judaism, as to the article of doctrine, for our Lord himself here adopts it as his own principle; he quotes it from the writings of Moses, and so transmitted it, on his own authority, to his followers. Accordingly, we find the apostles teaching and practising this as a first principle of their religion. St. Paul, Rom. i, 21-25, charges the heathen with not glorifying God when they knew him, and worshipping and serving "the creature more than (or, beside) the Creator, who is blessed for ever." "Wherein the apostle," says Waterland, "plainly intimates, that the Creator only is to be served, and that the idolatry of the heathens lay in their worship ping of the creature. He does not blame them for giving sovereign or absolute worship to creatures; they could scarcely be so silly as to imagine there could be more than one supreme God; hut for giving any worship to them at all, sovereign or inferior." (Define of Queries.) Again: when he mentions it as one of the crimes of the Galatians, previous to their conversion to Christianity, that they " did SERVICE unto them which by nature were no gods," he plainly intimates, that no one has a title to religious service but lie who is by nature God; and, if so, he himself could not worship or do service to Christ, unless he believed him to possess a natural and essential Divinity.
The practice of the apostles, too, was in strict accordance with this principle. Thus, when worship was offered to St. Peter, by Cornelius, who certainly did not take him to be God, he forbade it: so also Paul and Barnabas forbade it at Lystra, with expressions of horror, when offered to them. An eminent instance is recorded, also, of the exclusion of all creatures, however exalted, from this honour, in Rev. xix, 10, where the angel refuses to receive so much as the outward act of adoration, giving this rule and maxim upon it, "Worship GOD;" intimating thereby, that God only is to be worshipped; that all acts of religious worship are appropriated to God alone. He does riot say, "Worship God, and whom God shall appoint to be worshipped," as if he had appointed any beside God; nor "Worship God with sovereign worship," as if any inferior sort of worship was permitted to be paid to creatures; but simply, plainly, and briefly, "Worship God."
From the known and avowed religious sentiments, then, of the apostles, both as Jews and as Christians, as well as from their practice, it follows that they could not pay religious worship to Christ, a fact which has already been established, except they had considered him as a Divine person, and themselves as bound, on that account, according to his own words, to honour the Son, even as they honoured the Father.
The Arians, it is true, as hinted above, devised the doctrine of supreme and inferior worship, and a similar distinction was maintained by Dr. Samuel Clarke, to reconcile the worship of Christ with his semiArianism. The same sophistical distinctions are resorted to by Roman Catholics to vindicate the worship of angels, the Virgin Mary, and departed saints. This distinction they express by latreia and douleia. St. Paul, however, and other sacred writers, and the early fathers, certainly use these terms promiscuously and indifferently, so that the argument which is founded upon them, in defence of this inferior and subordinate worship, falls to the ground; and, as to all these distinctions of worship into ultimate or supreme, mediate or inferior, Dr. Waterland has most forcibly observed,-
1. "I can meet with nothing in Scripture to countenance those fineipun notions. Prayer we often read of; but there is not a syllable about absolute and relative, supreme and inferior prayer. We are commanded to pray fervently and incessantly; but never sovereignly or absolutely that I know of. We have no rules left us about raising or lowering our intentions, in proportion to the dignity of the objects. Some instructions to this purpose might have been highly useful; and it is very strange that, in a matter of so great importance, no directions should be given, either in Scripture, or, at least, in antiquity, how to regulate our intentions and meanings, with metaphysical exactness; so as to make our worship either high, higher, or highest of all, as occasion should require.
2. "But a greater objection against this doctrine is, that the whole tenor of Scripture runs counter to it. This may be understood, in part, from what I have observed above. To make it yet plainer, I shall take into consideration such acts and instances of worship, as I find laid dawn in Scripture, whether under the old or new dispensation.
"Sacrifice was one instance of worship required under the law; and it is said, 'He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed,' Exod. xxii, 20. Now suppose any per eon, considering with himself that only absolute and sovereign sacrifice was appropriated to God, by this law, should have gone and sacrificed to other gods, and have been convicted of it before the judges :-the apology he must have made for it, I suppose, must have run thus: 'Gentlemen, though I have sacrificed to other gods, yet, I hope, you '11 observe, that I did it not absolutely: I meant not any absolute or supreme sacrifice, (which is all that the law forbids,) but relative and inferior only. I regulated my intentions with all imaginable care, and my esteem with the most critical exactness: I considered the other gods, whom I sacrificed to, as inferior only, and infinitely so; reserving all sovereign sacrifice to the supreme God of Israel.' This, or the like apology, must, I presume, have brought off the criminal, with some applause for his acuteness, if your principles be true. Either you must allow this; or you must- be content to say, that not only absolute supreme sacrifice, (if there be any sense in that phrase,) but all sacrifice was, by the law, appropriated to God only.
"Another instance of worship is, making of vows, religious vows. We find as little appearance of your famed distinction here, as in the former case. We read nothing of sovereign and inferior, absolute and relative vows; that we should imagine supreme vows to be appropriate to God, inferior permitted to angels or idols, or to any creature.
"Swearing is another instance much of the same kind with the foregoing. Swearing by God's name is a plain thing, and well understood: but if you tell us of sovereign and inferior swearing, according to the inward respect or intention you have, in proportion to the dignity of the person by whose name you swear, it must sound perfectly new to us. All swearing which comes short in its respects, or falls below sovereign, will, I am afraid, be little better than profaneness.
"Such being the case in respect of the acts of religious worship al. ready mentioned, I am now to ask you, what is there so peculiar in the case of invocation and adoration, that they should not be thought of the same kind with the other? Why should not absolute and relative prayer and prostration appear as absurd as absolute and relative sacrifice, vows, oaths, or the like? They are acts and instances of religious worship, like the other; appropriated to God in the same manner, and by the same laws, and upon the same grounds and reasons. Well then, will you please to consider whether you have not begun at the wrong end, and committed an usteron proteron in your way of thinking. You imagine that acts of religious worship are to derive their signification and quality from the intention and meaning of the worshippers; whereas the very reverse of it is the truth. Their meaning and signification is fixed and determined by God himself; and therefore we are never to use them with any other meaning, under peril of profaneness or idolatry. God has not left us at liberty to fix what sense we please upon religious worship, to render it high or low, absolute or relative, at discretion, supreme when offered to God, and if to others inferior: as when to angels, or saints, or images, in suitable proportion. No: religion was not made for metaphysical heads only; such as might nicely distinguish the several degrees and elevations of respect and honour among many objects. The short and plain way, which (in pity to human infirmity, and to prevent confusion,) it has pleased God to take with us, is to make all religious worship his own; and so it is sovereign of course. This I take to be the true Scriptural, as well as only reasonable account of the object of worship. We need not concern ourselves (it is hut vain to pretend to it) about determining the sense and meaning of religious worship. God himself has taken care of it; and it is already fixed and determined to our hands. It means, whether we will or no, it means, by Divine institution and appointment, the divinity, the supremacy, the sovereignty of its object. To misapply those marks of dignity, those appropriate ensigns of Divine majesty; lo compliment any creature with them, and thereby to make common what God has made proper, is to deify the works of God's hands, and to serve the creature instead of the Creator, God blessed for ever. We have no occasion to talk of sovereign, absolute prayers, and such other odd fancies prayer is an address to God, and does not admit of those novel distinctions. In short then, here is no room left for your distinguishing between sovereign and inferior adoration. You must first prove, what you have hitherto presumed only, and taken for granted, that you are at liberty to fix what meaning and signification you please to the acts of religious worship; to make them high or low at discretion. This you will find a very difficult undertaking. Scripture is beforehand with you; and, to fix it more, the concurring judgment of the earliest and best Christian writers. All religious worship is hereby determined to be what you call absolute and sovereign. Inferior or relative worship appears now to be contradiction in sense, as it is novel in sound; like an inferior or relative god." (Defence of Queries.)
These absurdities have, at length, been discovered by Socinians themselves, who, notwithstanding the authority of Socinus, have, at length, become, in this respect, consistent; and, as they deny the Divinity of our Lord, so they refuse him worship, and do NOT "honour the Son as they honour the Father." Their refusal to do so must be left to him who hath said, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way;" but, though they have not shunned error, they have, at least, by refusing all worship to Christ, escaped from hypocrisy.
Numerous other passages in the New Testament, in addition to those on which some remarks have been offered, might be adduced, in which the Divinity of our Lord is expressly taught, and which might be easily rescued from that discreditable and unscholarly criticism, by which Socinian writers have attempted to darken their evidence. It has, however, been my object rather to adduce passages which directly support the arguments in the order in which they have been adduced, than to collect those which are more insulated. All of them ought, however, to be consulted by the careful student; and, indeed, from many texts of this description, which appear to be but incidentally introduced, the evidence that the doctrine of the Godhead of Christ was taught by the apostles, is presented to us with this impressive circumstance, that the inspired writers of the New Testament all along assume it as a point which was never, in that age, questioned by true Christians. It influenced, therefore, the turn of their language, and established a theological style among them when speaking of Christ, which cannot possibly be reconciled to any hypothesis which excludes his essential Deity; and which no honest, or even rational, men could have fallen into, unless they had acknowledged and worshipped their Master as GOD.
Out of this numerous class of passages, one will suffice for illustration.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation," &c, Philip. ii, 5-7. Here the apostle is recommending an humble and benevolent disposition to the Philippians; and he enforces it, not certainly by considerations which themselves needed to be established by proof, or in which the Philippians had not been previously instructed, but in the most natural manner, and that only which a good writer could adopt, by what was already established, and received as true among them. It was already admitted by the Philippians as an undoubted verity of the Christian religion, that before Christ appeared in "the form of a servant," he existed "in the form of God," and before he was "found in fashion as a man," he was such a being as could not think it "robbery to he equal with God." On these very grounds the example of Christ is proposed to his followers, and its imitation enforced upon them. This incidental and familiar manner of introducing so great a subject, clearly shows that the Divinity of Christ was a received doctrine; but, though introduced incidentally, the terms employed by the apostle are as strong and unequivocal as if he had undertaken formally to propose it. It is not necessary to show this by going through that formidable mass of verbal criticism which commentators, scholiasts, and other critics, have accumulated around this passage. Happily as to this, as well as many other important texts which form the bases of the great dogmata of Christianity, much less is left to verbal criticism than many have supposed; the various clauses, together with the connection, so illustrate and guard the meaning as to fix their sense, and make it obvious to the general reader. "Who being" or "subsisting in the form of God." This is the first character of Christ's exalted preexistent state, and it is adduced as the ground of a claim which, for a season, he divested himself of, and became, therefore, an illustrious example of humility and charity. The greatness of Christ is first laid down, then what he renounced of that which was due to his greatness, and finally the condition is introduced to which he stooped or humbled himself. "He thought it not robbery to be EQUAL with God, but made himself of NO REFUTATION, and took upon him the form of a SERVANT." These are, obviously, the three great points in this celebrated text, to the consideration of which we are strictly bound by the apostle's argument. Let each be briefly considered, and it will be seen how impossible it is to explain this passage in any way which does not imply our Lord's essential Divinity. To be or to subsist in "the form of God," is to be truly and essentially GOD. This may, in. deed, be argued from the word morfh, though some have confined its meaning to external form or appearance. The Socinian exposition, that "the form of God" signifies his power of working miracles, needs no other refutation than that the apostle here speaks of what our Lord was before he took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. The notion, too, of Whitby and others, who refer it to the visible glory of God, in which he appeared to the patriarcns, is also disproved by this manifest consideration, that the phrase "SUBSISTING (uparcwn) in the form of God," describes the Permanent pre-existent state of Christ. He subsisted in the form of God, therefore, from eternity, and consequently before he made any visibly glorious manifestations of himself to the patriarchs; nor, as God is invisible and immaterial, and consequent! has no likeness or figure, could our Lord, in their sense, "subsist" in the form or appearance of God. If, indeed, "form" means likeness, it must be intellectual likeness, and, therefore, to subsist in the form of God is to be God, for he could not be the likeness of God, or, as the apostle has it in the Hebrews, the "express image" or character of his person, without being God; for how could he be expressly like, or expressly resemble, or have the appearance of omnipotence, if he were not himself almighty; or of omniscience, if not himself all-knowing? Let us then allow that morfh in its leading sense has the signification of form, shape, image, and similitude, yet this can only be applied to the Divine Being figuratively. He has no sensible form, no appearance, and nothing can be in this form or image, therefore, but what has the same essential properties and perfections. "Sed age," says Eisner, "largiamur Socinianis morfhn speciem et imaginem Dei ease, tamen valido inde argumento docebirnus; Deum esse natura, qui informa et imagine Dei existeret; nisi Deum personatum, et commen titium, qui speciem quidem et fantasma haberet veritate carens, credere et adorare malint." (Observationes Sacrae in loc.) But it is not true, as some have hastily stated, that morfhn signifies only the outward form of any thing; it is used in Greek authors for the essential form, or nature itself of a thing, of which examples may be seen in Wetstein, EIsner, Rosenmuller, Schieusner, and others; and accordingly Schleusner ex plains it "per metonymiam; ipsa natura et essentia alicujus rei," and adds, "sic legitur in N. T. Philip. ii, 6, ubi Christus dicitur en morfh uparcwn ad designandam sublimiorem ipsius naturam." The Greek fathers also understood morfh in the sense of ousia, and to use the phrase "being in the form of God," to signify the "being really and truly God.'
Thus the term itself is sufficiently explicit of the doctrine; but the context would decide the matter, were the verbal criticism less decidedly in favour of this interpretation. "The form of God" stands opposed to "the form of a servant." This, say those critics who would make the form of God an external appearance only, means "the appearance and behaviour of a bondsman or slave, and not the essence of such a person." But doulo~, a slave, is not in the New Testament taken in the same opprobrious sense as among us. St. Paul calls himself" the slave of Jesus Christ," and our translators have, therefore, properly rendered the word by servant, as more exactly conveying the meaning intended. Now it is certain, that Christ was the servant or minister both of the Father and of his creatures. He himself declares, that lie came not "to be ministered unto, but to minister ;" and as to be in theform of a servant is not, therefore, to have the appearance of a servant, but to be really a servant, so to be in the form of God is to be really GOD. This is rendered still stronger by the following clause, which is exegetic of the preceding, as wilt appear from the literal rendering, the force of which is obscured by the copulative introduced into the common version. It is not, "and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," but "being made in the likeness of men," which clearly denotes that he took the form of a servant by "being made in the likeness of men," so that, as Bishop Pearson irresistibly argues,
"The phrase 'in the form of God,' not elsewhere mentioned, is used by the apostle with respect unto that other, of' the form of a servant,' exegetically continued 'in the likeness of men;' and the respect of one unto the other is so necessary, that if the form of God be not real and essential as the form of a servant, or the likeness of man, there is no force in the apostle's words, nor will his argument be fit to work any great degree of humiliation upon the consideration of Christ's exinanition. But by the form is certainly understood the true condition of a servant, and by the likeness is infallibly meant the real nature of man: nor doth the fashion, in which he was found, destroy, but rather assert the truth of his humanity. And therefore, as sure as Christ was really and essentially man, of the same nature with us, in whose similitude he was made; so certainly was he also really and essentially God, of the same nature and being with him, in whose form he did subsist." (Discourses on the Creed.)
The greatness of him who " humbled himself" being thus laid down by the apostle, he proceeds to state what, in the process of his humiliation, he waived of that which was due to his greatness. He "thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation;" or, as many choose to render it, "he emptied himself." Whether the clause, "thought it not robbery," be translated "esteemed it not an object to be caught at, or eagerly desired, to be as God," or did not think it a "usurpation;" or, as our translators have it, a "robbery" to be equal with God, signifies little; for, after all the criticism expended on this unusual phrase, that Christ had a right to that which he might have retained, but chose to waive when he humbled himself, is sufficiently established both by the meaning of the word and by the connection itself. Some Socinians allow the common translation, and their own version is to the same effect,-he" did not esteem it a prey," which can only mean, though they attempt to cloud the matter in their note, that he did not esteem that as his own property to which he had no right. That, then, which he did not account a "prey," a seizure of another's right or property, was "to be equal with Con." Whether, in the phrase to ina isa Qew, to be equal with God, isa is to be taken adverbially, and translated as, like as, GOD; or, by enallage, for the singular adjective masculine, and to be rendered equal to God, has been matter of dispute. The grammatical authority appears to predominate in favour of the latter, and it is supported by several of the fathers and the ancient versions; but here, again, we are not left to the niceties of verbal criticism. If taken in either way, the sense is much the same he thought it not a robbery, or usurpation, to be equal with God, or, as God, which, as the sense determines, was an equality of honour and dignity; but made himself of no reputation. For as the phrase, the form of God, signifies his essential Divinity, so that of which he "emptied" or divested himself for the lime was something to which he had a right consequent upon his Divinity; and if to be equal with God, or to be as God, was his right, as a Divine person, it was not any thing which lie was essentially of which he divested himself, for that were impossible, but something which, if he had not been God, it would have been a robbery and usurpation either to claim or retain. This, then, can be nothing else than the assumption of a Divine majesty and glory; the proclamation of his own rights, and the demand of his creatures' praise and homage, the laying aside of which, indeed, is admirably expressed in our translation, "but made himself of no reputation!" This is also established by the antithesis in the text. "The form of a servant" stands opposed to "the form of God,"-a real servant to real Divinity; arid to be "equal" with God, or, as God, in glory, honour, and homage, is contrasted with the humiliations of a human state. "In that state he was made flesh, sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, subject to the infirmities and miseries of this life; in that state he was "made of a woman, made under the law," arid so obliged to fulfil the same; in that state he was born, and lived to manhood in a mean condition: was "despised arid rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;" in that state, being thus made man, lie took upon him "the form of a servant." If any man doubt how Christ emptied himself, the text will satisfy him,-" by taking the form of a servant :" if any still question how he took the form of a servant, he bath the apostle's solution,-" by being made in the likeness of men." And being found in fashion as a man; being already by his examination, in the form of a servant, lie humbled himself, becoming "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Bishop Pearson.) The first stage of his humiliation was his assuming " the form of a servant;" the completion of it, his "obedience unto death." But what say the Socinians? As with them to be in the form of God means to be invested with miraculous powers, so to empty or divest himself, was his not exerting those powers in order to prevent his crucifixion. The truth, however, is, that he "emptied" himself, not at his crucifixion, but when lie took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; so that, if to divest or empty himself be explained of laying down his miraculous gifts, he laid them down before he became man, that is, according to them, before lie had any existence. There is no alternative, in this and many similar passages, between orthodoxy and the most glaring critical absurdity.
 "Psalmos omnes a XCIII ad CI in se continere mysterium Messiae, dixit David Kimshi." (Rosenmuller.)
 "Ceterum recte argumentatur apostolus: si angeli Regem illum maximum idoraro debent; ergo sunt illo inferi ores." (Rosenmufler in loc.)
 "1. Forma, externus, habitus, omne quod in oculos occurrit, imago, simi litudo." (Schleusner.)
 "Non rapinain, aut spolium alicui, detractum, duxil." (Rosenmuller.) So the ancient versions. "Non rapinam arbitratus eat." (Vulgate.) "Non rapinam hoc existimavit." (Syriac.)
 See Pearson on the Creed, Art. 2, note; Schleusner, Erasmus, and Schmidt.