"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Colossians 1:15
This is the last sermon I expect to preach in England for the present. Where I shall preach again, before I return to England, I cannot tell. My heart says, "Captain of Israel's host, and Guide Of all who seek the land above, Beneath thy shadow I abide, The cloud of thy protecting love: My strength thy grace, my rule thy word, My end the glory of the Lord. By thy unerring Spirit led, I shall not in the desert stray: I shall not full direction need, Nor miss my providential way; As far from danger as from fear, While love, Almighty love, is near."
And, what is better than all poetry, "Honor the Lord in all thy ways, and he shall direct thy paths."
The text that I have chosen tonight you will find in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians, the 19th verse. "For it pleased the Father that in him" -- that is, in Jesus -"should all fullness dwell."
I have sometimes sat on an eminence, since I have come to England, and I have watched the sun going down over the western hills; and as the sun was going down over the western hills of England, I have said, "Now, that sun has to go away (vulgarly speaking), and it will make its appearance in the eastern heavens again:" and then I have watched it, and seen it rising, and have cried out, there's a tremendous motion somewhere, and I do not know where. Astronomy tells me the earth goes about the sun. I cannot tell. Why, astronomers would call me a blockhead if I would not believe it. Well, I suppose it is so; but, after all, there's a mystery about the revolutions of the planets that I cannot understand. All I have been able to say, in looking at it, is that I know not any principle in astronomy or philosophy which I would be willing to trust my soul upon in the present day. But between the leaves of this Bible I do find something I can rest my soul upon. I have seen the sun; and I have seen the moon, appearing in the western heavens like a Turkish crescent; and I have watched her rising in full-orbed majesty in the east; and I have said, there's motion somewhere. But when I see mind in motion, when I see the poor sinner on his knees crying for mercy, I am not at a loss about the motion there; I know its cause; it is at the center; it originates with Christ; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
And I have sat by the ocean shore, and have watched the tide coming in. And I have watched it coming in and it has beaten me back from rock to rock, and it has demanded every inch of me, and the language of the incoming tide has said, "Go back! go back!" and if I dared to stand my ground, it would come upon me to beat me back. I have said, "There's tremendous motion somewhere." And I have watched the tide filling every creek, every crevice along the shore; and I have said, "There's tremendous motion somewhere." They say, "It is the regular course of nature." I say, "It is a mighty miracle!" And I have said, "There's a tremendous center of motion somewhere, but where is it?" There I stopped; there I have stopped; and in all that I have read about the tides of the sea, I cannot understand it. I cannot understand why you have two miles of tide, -- one mile, two miles, three miles of tide, -- on the shores of England, in Naples six inches, and so on: why, I answer, "I cannot tell; it's mystery all!" And there's as great a mystery about the tides of the ocean, as some of the infidels talk about the mysteries of Christianity. But when I watched the tide, and said, "How's this?" I dared not drown myself, like Aristotle, because I could not tell the mystery of the tides. God keep the poor infidel who will send his soul to hell because he cannot understand the mysteries of creation!
I have stood in a population of hundreds of thousands of souls, and I have seen a mighty mass of men going down in one dark, black-current to the cataract of hell; and, glory be to God! I have stood beside the banks of that river, and have seen the tide parted backward, and running backward, contrary to the course of nature, by a power! and have cried out, "My God, who hath tamed these towards heaven?" and I have not been at a loss on that point. If I cannot explain the tide, I do know what caused that mind-motion. That motion of mind comes from heaven. And there was a power here last night, bless God! to turn all of the sinners of Nottingham in a moment! and where is that center of power? It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
All fullness in Christ! I have sometimes thought, the apostle Paul took the sun, the solar system, and made it a sort of a type of the Gospel; that, as the sun is the center of the solar system, and as all the other systems are directed by this sun, and by the same powerful attraction kept in their orbs, so St. Paul places Jesus Christ as the great center and sun of all the doctrines and ordinances of Christianity; and he places him in the center, and all the doctrines revolve around him. He's the center of all that is in Christianity. And let every person read this chapter over, and you will see how beautifully he represents Christ. Hear how he goes on. "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son." So, his dear son's got a kingdom! and, therefore, is a king: and that is the first step, the kingly authority of Jesus Christ. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." "Through his blood!" Unitarian! Stop there! "Forgiveness of sins through his blood!" Some persons talk about the atonement, and about merit, -- well, we are not going to quarrel about merit; but is not this merit? "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Do as you like; discard merit if you like; there is forgiveness through blood, make what you will of it. That is one step; what's the next? "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature." You will find out what he made Christ before you have done with it. "For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible." What! is Christ the creator of the world? Yes, he is. "All things, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, -- all things were created by him."
"Ah! but," says one, "he had a delegated power." O, no; "All things were created by him and for him." They were made for him. He made them, and they were his own. "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist, And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning; the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell."
There is a fullness in Christ in many ways, but I shall promise no more than one at a time; then I can stop when I think you are tired, or when it is proper to stop. Lift up your hearts in prayer.
There is a fullness in Christ, -- my text says it, -- of light, of mercy, of power, of grace, of everything the soul of man needs; fullness of benevolence, of merit, of intercession: for it is said, "he ever liveth to make intercession for us;" and, "there is one mediator between God and man, -Christ Jesus" Therefore, in Christ all fullness dwells.
The first thing I want to touch upon is this: that unless a measure of that fullness -- take which point of the fullness you will -- is communicated to the sinner, he never can see himself as a sinner. I hold that to be an unquestionable proposition, that if God were to let the sinner alone, he would no more seek after him than the devil. But, bless God! there is an intercessor; there is a Christ; and as long as that Christ is alive and in glory -- the friend of the human race -- he'll not let a man or a woman of you alone; and while there's an agitation in heaven, there'll be an agitation on earth. God will not let the sinner alone. God begins very young with sinners; and yet I have seen a case, in the course of my travels, that rather staggered me. I happened to be pursuing my travels on horseback; I was riding along a road through large mountains, when I saw a horse galloping after me, with a little boy on it, with a red night-cap on, riding as fast as he was able.
He pulled up his horse. "Well," I said, "my lad, who made this heaven, up yonder?"
"I don't know, sir," said he.
"Well, now, look at that mountain, yonder (it was called the camel's rump), tipped with a cloud, up yonder; who made that?"
He said, "Indeed, I don't know, sir."
Said I, "My lad, do you ever go to any place of public worship?"
"Where they read, and where they pray?"
"And don't you hear a man sometimes speaking and talking?"
"Well, and who is he talking to, with his eyes shut?"
"Indeed, I don't know."
"My dear," said I, "he was talking to the Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, -- that God that piled up the mountain: that is the God he was talking to, my lad." The little fellow seemed to be affected. Said I, "Lad, how old are you?" "Ten years," he answered. He told me his father was dead, and his mother alive; and it appeared that into that little creature's mind, at ten years of age, the idea of the existence of God had never entered. I hold this to be an extraordinary case. Bless God for Sabbath-schools! There are some lads know more about scripture at ten years of age than some gray-headed sinners at sixty. But one great principle will hold out universally, that no man can ever get into hell-fire with his eyes shut. The Lord will make him feel and understand before he goes to the bar of God; for it pleased the Father that all fullness of light, and conviction, and awakening powers, should dwell in Christ.
That is the first thing: the second thing our text suggests is that, as all fullness dwells in Christ, no sinner can ever come to the true point of salvation, unless it be through Christ who pleads for him in the heavens. The true point of faith, whereby God justifies the sinner, is the last thing the sinner will come to before he's converted. As far as I have seen or read about it, it is the last thing the sinner will do to come to Christ for mercy through simple faith in the blood of the Lamb. Nothing is more common than that a sinner, when awakened, will leave off Sabbath-breaking, come to the house of God, and try every method to get salvation, except the true method. And, after every method is tried,
"Should sudden vengeance seize my breath, I must pronounce thee just in death; And if my soul is sent to hell, Thy righteous law approves it well."
And he will do everything before he comes, as a wretched, guilty, hell-deserving sinner, to rest upon the merits of Christ's blood. After he has done all that, we have seen such sinners coming, with their faces pale, and the flesh worn from their bones; and many a trembling lip have I seen. Well, they have come and said, "Sir, it's no use; if ever a man has sought God for mercy sincerely, I have; it's no use; I have tried every way to find mercy, and God has some exceptions against me." I have assured such persons, over and over again, it's no use I see there's a legality in your nature, and it will be the very best thing you will do to get rid of it. You want to bring something with you. And there's nothing more common than for a man to come, and offer up his body, soul, and spirit, to God -and he says, "I have abandoned my sins; and, all I can say is, I have promised to be thy servant forever."
"Well," says one, "can he do any more? He believes that Christ died for him; can he do more?" I answer, he might seek religion till his head's gray, and not find mercy.
"That," says one, "if he trusts in the merits of Christ?" Part of it is right, and part of it is wrong. The true faith is there, but it is tainted. Don't you see, the man is making a bargain with God? He is bringing his good life, and putting this in as a plea; putting that into the balance, and then puts the merits of Christ in to make up the weight. It's a bargain with God, and God will push him away. "But," says one, "why?" I answer, he owes his body, soul, and spirit, to God already: he can offer to God but what belongs to Him: there's no salvation in that. "But," says another, "what is to be done?"
I will show you. At length, -- and it's the last thing he's ever willing to do, -- the spirit of God's at work with the man, and is cutting off tie after tie that binds him to the old Adam:-- it's the last thing he'll do, to come as a bankrupt. Self-righteousness sits as close to his soul as the skin to his bones; and the Holy Ghost has to flay him, as it were, -- to strip off this self-righteousness; and at last he is stripped before the living God; and he comes, a poor, naked; trembling sinner, and he says, "God Almighty! I have nothing to offer; I offer my body, soul, and spirit, but they are thine already; have mercy upon me through Christ's blood alone: I trust myself upon the blood of Jesus." And the angels say, "He'll live!" And Christ says, "Let him live! Behold my hands and side. Behold the pleading sinner's plea!" And every attribute of God Almighty says, "He must live!" and at last God says to the pleading, trusting sinner, "Live! Live!" And the Holy Ghost says Live!" His chains fly off; his soul is free; he rises up, and triumphs, and glorifies his pardoning God. This is salvation by faith. It is the very last thing a sinner will do; and this is the main reason why many persons are deceived regarding their conversion.
Keep lifting up your hearts to God. Take care, friend, you are not deceived there. You have offered all up; but I fear you will never go as a guilty, condemned sinner, trusting in Christ as your only plea; and I believe that, were it not for the intercession of Christ, I should have stopped short, and you would have stopped short, and every other man. I was in the town some time ago, and there was a great report went about of our doings; and there was a very wicked farmer who denied the existence of a hell: he was next door to an atheist; and his conduct was just according to his principles: he was many a time drunk. He was a respectable farmer, though, a man of good property, and had a family. Well, he came to see the goings on in the chapel; he got to sitting down in the middle of the chapel, and in the sermon God struck him; but he would not come forward to be prayed for. After the service, I went with a minister home, and we were up in his library, and we heard an uproar out of doors, -- such an uproar! -- and then we heard steps coming up, indicating a heavy heart, or an aged man:-- it was the farmer. He came in, and looked like desolation. Said he, "Sirs, I am undone." "No," said I, "you are not undone; there's mercy for you."
"O, what a sinner I am!" he said, and down he came upon a heap in the floor, and cried for mercy. We kept pleading with God for a long while, till at about twelve o'clock, I said, "I am fairly worn out," and the minister said, "I cannot stand it any longer." We spoke to the man, and told him so; and he got up, and got his hat. There was another member of his family with him, and he took him by the hand; and if he had been going to the gallows, he could not have looked more desolate. "Farewell," he said, "farewell!" -- as if he thought he would be in hell before the next morning. Really, I could not stand it. We went down to prayer again; but it was of no use, and he went away. At last I saw him in chapel, a few nights after. There was such a smile, -- a heaven, upon the man's countenance! I went up to him, and said, "How are you?"
"Ah, sir, I am happy! But sir, Mr. Caughey," said he "the devil nearly cheated me, after all."
"I will tell you," he replied. "When I went home, I cried for mercy, and went to bed, and got up in the morning. I felt comfortable in the morning; something was telling me, 'You are converted.' Then something said, 'No, you are not converted already;' and I did not know which to believe. But one of my neighbors came in, and I asked him what he thought of my state. He sat down to read the Bible to me. Well, I let him read. I waited till he closed reading, and then I went into my barn, and made up my mind I would have this voice settled. One voice said, 'You have [are] done;' and something said, 'You have [are] not done.' I pleaded for salvation, and, in pleading with God, he set my soul at liberty, and I made my barn ring again. Bless God, I got saved! but the devil nearly cheated me." Take care, friends, or the devil will get you into hell-fire yet. Examine the workings of your soul. For Christ pleads for you. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
The next thing our text suggests is, that unless believers get fully united to Christ, as the branch becomes united to the vine they must wither, and droop, and die. There can be no life without Christ, -- no vigorous profession without him. If you are growing upon the old stock Adam, and are not engrafted into Jesus Christ our Lord, your profession, though made in the name of Jesus Christ, is not the profession of the Gospel. It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell, -- that, unless believers are united to Christ, they cannot be true Christians; and if they get out of Christ, they wither, they droop, they die. Now, I do not know how you settle that matter in this country. Says one, "What matter?" The matter of the possibility of falling from Christ, and getting into hell. I do not intend to say much about it now; I leave parties to their own controversial work. But I will tell you how we do in North America; and I believe there is very little prejudice in Nottingham against the other side of the Atlantic. But then Jesus Christ is a Saviour who died for the sins of the whole world; and there is a spirit of liberality about religious principles wherever they have been received. We do it in this way. Is it possible to be in Christ, and to get out of him, and perish in hell? Some say No, some say Yes; -- we settle it in this way.
We just turn to the following chapter, and read, -- "I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now, ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit in itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me: I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Now, is there a gardener here? If I am not mistaken, there is one. I ask that gardener to decide this: may a branch be "cast forth and cut off," and be engrafted again? "Yes." If it "wither" a little, may it be engrafted and live? "Yes." "And men gather the branches;" and after they are grafted, may they not be grafted in again? "Yes." And cast them into the fire and they are burned;" and can they then be grafted in again? "No," says a gardener, "we cannot engraft them then." Now, if that means anything, it means that ye may get cut off, bound up with sinners, and burned in hell-fire; and if it doesn't mean that, I protest to you I do not know what it means. We must abide in Christ. God help you; but trust in Christ; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
I believe it is one thing to be engrafted into Christ: for if ever you are in Christ, you are engrafted; if you are not engrafted you belonged to the old stock Adam; I did, you did, we all did. We are engrafted into Christ and have a new nature. And hence, says the apostle, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." And that is what Christ says, "Be abiding in me, for I am the vine and ye are the branches." Now, there's a very great difference between the faith of engrafting and the faith of adhering. "But," says one, "I hope you will not make any distinctions in theology, for we have plenty." No; I am the last man to do so. "Well," says another, "what do you mean?" I answer, there are two classes of people in Protestantism; the one class have the engrafting faith; and there's another class that twines about Christ; they adhere to him, but they have never been united to him, to get succor or strength out of him. I will illustrate this. Do you see yon trees? It is a wood. It is July. We take a walk there. By and by we come to a very lofty oak; and look upon the oak, and you say, Dear me! that oak's very thick; it's an unusually thick oak! Do you see what foliage it has on it? -- you would say to your friend. He would reply, "That thickness is not of oak-leaves." Ah! that's it. What's that twisting about the trunk of the oak? It's one of those vines -- what do you call them? -- ivies, -- vines; -- and they begin to twist. Now, then, begin the twist, and up with you, and by and by you will see that ivy at the top. Pluck off one of the branches of the ivy, and then one of the oak; -- and go to any of our American farmers, and say, "Well, what's that?" "Oak." "I don't care where it grew, oak's oak all the world over." "And what's that?" "Ivy." "Well, but they both grew on the same tree! I declare that I (with my own hands) climbed up the tree and plucked them both from the top branches." "Well, I don't care what you say; it is not an oak, you cannot make it an oak; you may go where you like with it." Now, I tell you that there's a fair example between a formalist and a true Christian. There are some persons that grow on their old roots; and seem to twine about Christ, and twine about him; but, like that ivy, if you untwist it, -- if you can, but it's a difficult thing, -untwist, untwist, untwist, and get to the bottom, -- you see, it grows on its old roots. It's merely borne up. So there are professors of religion who grow on their old roots, but they will twist about God, and twist about, and twist about him -May God waken you! -- It is with many persons just as it was in the days of old; like the seven women that took hold of one man, and said, "Let us drink our own water, and eat our own bread, and be called by thy name." I would be the last man that would hurt a tender conscience or perplex a sincere man. Says one, "Well, you are in very great danger, for that is a point that will perplex them." May God bless them! But I am not afraid of hurting them. They will stand, if they are in Christ. Go into the woods and take hold of a tree, and give it a good shake; -by the by, take care of your head, for the rotten branches will fall on you. But the sound branches will not fall. And when a man has taken hold on Christ, he can go through a shake, and not all the winds of earth and hell can prevail against him. God Almighty! take away the rotten branches, and graft them in.
O friend! O friend! O friend! take care of this business. If you are growing on your own root, it will be a terrible affair for you. And I tell you what, if you are not rooted in Jesus Christ, you will not flourish, -- you will wither. I was out one day walking, I will not say where, and I looked up to a tree, and I saw a great many withered leaves: and I said, "Dear me! what's the matter with that tree?" and I looked, and part of the tree was green, and it was beautiful; and I looked, and there was a vine twisted about it, and some person had come and cut the vine, -- cut it clean through; and I said, "That is it, you were cut; you will never grow again." Now, to many a sinner that is growing from his own roots, twisted about Christ, God sends a messenger of Jesus with a cutting knife; and he begins to cut, and cuts away, and cuts that one that's growing from the roots. Cut him, my Lord! Cut him! May the Holy Ghost never give you rest till you are engrafted in Jesus Christ.
The next thing our text suggests is this: why has it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in him? I answer, for our security. Before my arrival in this country, there was a great stagnation -- no, that is not it, -- there was a great commotion among private banking companies and I do not know but that some of you have lost by their breaking; and some of you have taken very good care since what sort of a bank you have put your money in. Now, God lodged the whole bank stock of man's salvation in one man's hands; and that was Adam. You all know that Adam became a bankrupt; and it never pleased the Father any more to trust it in any man's hand again. And if he had, backslider! you would have been undone. You have yet your portion; and, bless God, there's enough. He has put the stock of salvation in the bank that never fails. That's one reason.
And the next reason is, that you may all have a share in that bank. And all believers present now have a share; and ye may draw from the bank, and ye are drawing now; and ye are far more happy than when ye came into the chapel. And now you can help others, and draw from the bank, if they have not anything in it. A poor man comes to you, and you have got some money in a bank. The poor man says, "Dear sir, these are very hard times, and I am in great difficulty; I will give you all the security I can, and I want you to give me a check for #20." "Well," you say, "I don't know; let me see. Have you tried everywhere else?" "Yes sir; I come to you as my last hope." "Very well," you say; and you write a check on the bank for #20. He goes to the bank, and walks right in, as if he were lord of all that is in it. He has a bad coat, or a bad hat, -- you would not give perhaps a shilling for all that he has got; but the cashier does not look at the man's coat; he looks at the check. The man does not return thanks -- unless he likes; he has got his #20. Bless God! you may give the poorest sinner in this chapel a check, if you like; and what is the form of it? "Ask, and ye shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Send him; blessed be God, he shall be saved! For it pleased the Father that in Christ all fullness should dwell.
I see my hour is now nearly expired; but there is -- I speak with great solemnity, and preach it with solemn awe -- there is in Christ what is not communicable to all. There is an incommunicable fullness in Jesus Christ; and that belongs to his Godhead; for the apostle Paul says, "In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Says one, "What's that?" I cannot tell you. It is too deep for me. I believe it, yet I cannot fathom it. What am I? I am a creature of a day. When shall I be? Soon I shall return to dust, and my soul into eternity. And what am I, to sit in judgment upon the counsels of heaven, -- a creature of a day, to stand and presume to fathom what is the mind of the great God! I speak with awe. My business is to believe the book. "But," says one, the divinity of Jesus Christ is unreasonable." I answer, that it is more unreasonable to reject than to believe it. "But how can you prove it?" I take it as the most reasonable thing to believe the revelations of my God. Nay, sir, I should doubt the revelation, if I could fathom it. But I confess to this congregation that there's a mystery about the two natures. I confess it, even in the hearing of the Unitarian, that it is beyond my power of reason fully to comprehend; though I do confess with my whole soul, I believe that Jesus Christ was God as well as man. I confess to this congregation, I cannot comprehend it with my reason, when I read, "Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Now, how a little child can be the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father I confess is beyond the power of my reason; but I feel it so reasonable to bow down my poor ignorant head, and believe this book, -- I confess I cannot fathom. There is the first chapter of John's gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made," etc. I cannot fathom it. "You believe it?" says one. Ah! I do believe it with my whole heart; but I cannot understand how in the beginning the Word was God, and how he was made flesh and dwelt among us. And again, I cannot fathom this, I confess it, though I believe it:-- "Great is the mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh, seen of angels."
And again, it is said, "And when he brought again his first-begotten into the world, he said, Let all the angels of God worship him. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, oh God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." I cannot fathom how it is that there is one being in heaven united with the eternal God, that receives the adoration and worship of all hosts of heaven; and that the Lamb that was slain is this being. But if I cannot comprehend it, I do feel that I can bow my head to it; and if I cannot feel how it is that Jesus Christ should say, "Go ye out into all the world, and preach the gospel, and baptize them," -- that is, consecrate them, "body, soul and spirit," -- well, any more? Yes, -- "baptize them in the name of the Father," -- stop there? No, "and in the name of the Son," -- so there are two persons,-- "and in the name of the Holy Ghost." What? consecrate them to the service of all three? Why not a million, if Jesus Christ is a mere creature? -- for a million is as far from infinity as one. Why not to the seven spirits and the twenty-four elders? I confess to you it is too deep. I bow my head and say, I was consecrated in my infancy to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by the authority of Jesus Christ; and I must worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. "But," says one, "you cannot understand it." Be it so. I bow my head to the dictates of eternal truth. I cannot understand why it is that the apostle should say, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you;" and why these three persons' names should be pronounced equal in power and glory. I do not know why he did not say, "The grace of St. Paul, St. James, St. Luke," and of the whole calendar of primitive saints. No, but there are three. And why three? Why the three mentioned in this order, -- the Father first, the Son second, and the Holy Ghost next, -- when pronouncing a blessing upon a departing congregation by the authority of the apostle? I say I cannot fathom it in any other way than that they are the same, equal in power and glory, demanding like homage. Now, while there is mystery in all these matters, and while I confess to you and make apology, and while I feel it is rational to take the Scriptures as they are, and say, with Thomas, "My Lord, and my God!" it is reasonable to believe the book of the living God. But why there is a mystery about the divinity of Christ united with his manhood, and why he says, "The Father is greater than I," and then again, "I and my Father are one," -- there's a mystery now! and I confess to this congregation I have never been able to satisfy myself on this mystery, unless that when he said, "The Father is greater than I," he meant his manhood; and when "I and my Father are one," he meant his Godhead. And again he says, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." And if Jesus Christ did not claim divine honors, it is the most suspicious point in all his character. And if Jesus Christ did not claim equal honors, it is the most suspicious word ever passed the lips of God. O, believe that he was honest! but that is too low a word:-- all things prove him to have been all purity and devoutness, and immaculate; and therefore I cannot conceive any other interpretation than this: that he claimed equality in the Godhead. And what could be the meaning of the apostle when he saith, -- O! it is very strong language,-- "Who, though he was in the form of man, thought it no robbery to be equal with God"?
What's that? Thought it no robbery to be equal with God!
That a mere creature dare lay claim to be equal with God? After all, still there are difficulties. For when I take up the character of Jesus Christ, I see his manhood, and I see him weak and feeble, and hungry and weeping, in various circumstances; just like the sun that sometimes rises in the sky, very much clouded as he rises, and by and by, towards eleven o'clock, your English sun is in brilliance and splendor. It is so with the divinity of Christ. For instance, yonder's a manger and a stable, and in that manger lies a little one, -- a helpless babe, surrounded by the beasts of the stall. That's Jesus Christ in his humanity. And look, yonder, yonder, yonder! What's that? Why, the whole plain of Bethlehem is illuminated, and there's a cry to the trembling shepherds, -- a cry of peace:-- "Fear not, for unto you a child is born in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." And all the heavens are illuminated, as they go up into heaven, crying, "Glory to God in the highest! That is Jesus Christ in his divinity."
See, yonder's a certain town, -- it lies in the heart of Palestine. Yonder -- yonder a man stands surrounded by a few men; and there's one in the midst, -- look at him! "Come," says he; and he leads them along, -- he's in the midst of them. That's Jesus Christ in his humanity. And by and by he cries out, "Pause!" They pause. He stands by the side of the coffin that is borne by several men; and the mother, weeping, is close by the coffin, for her only son lies there a stiff corpse. There is Jesus Christ; there's the dead body; and Jesus Christ utters the command -- "Young man, I say unto thee, arise!" There was a shaking in the coffin; he springs up in the coffin, and the next moment he's out of it, clasping his weeping mother; and the whole funeral stands aghast, and cries, "He's risen from the dead!" I own a mighty power there, beyond all that's mortal, and bow my head, and own a present God.
Yonder's a mountain; and on that mountain there's a being kneeling in prayer. And it is the midnight hour. And he's praying, and lifting up his hands to heaven, and in the midnight hour communing with the powers above. Who's that? It's Jesus Christ. He's kneeling in prayer. Now, yonder he goes -- watch him! There! he's close to the water, and he looks like a man. See yonder -in the midst of the lake -- there's a little vessel; and the rowers are toiling away and they cannot make an inch, and are pulling hard for life -- poor fellows! Who in the world are they? They're his own disciples. And what can he do? Who can help them? The mighty God can help them! Their Master's on the shore, and he looks through the night, and sees them in their terror. Mark! the first mad wave that rolls in, he put his foot on it, and it bears him: and he steps right out from one crested wave to another, in solemn majesty, till he comes in a parallel line with the laboring vessel. And the seamen see one like the Son of Man walking on the sea, and they cry out, "It is a spirit!" and over the billows, and along upon the wind he comes; and then there is a voice coming to them: "Be not afraid; it is I!" They lie upon their oars, and the vessel labors; and by and by he steps from one crested wave to another; and one lends him its shoulder after another, and he steps into the boat, and there is a calm, and all in the vessel cry out, "What does it mean?" I know what it means! You have his manhood on the mountain: but when he begins to walk the waves and hush the storm, my soul bows to him. I own the mighty God. I adore him as not only man, but my God. Glory be to God! For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
Yonder is a company of persons standing together in close conversation, And in the midst of them there's one with a seamless coat. And they're in very close conversation. What is it they're talking about? One of these is Jesus, and he says, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." "O well!" say the disciples, "if he sleeps, he will do well." "Why, I tell you, Lazarus is dead!" says Jesus. "Well, then," they say, "we may as well die with him:" -- as much as to say, we have not another place to lie in, and our comforts are at an end. "Well," said Jesus, "I am glad I was not there, for your sakes: however, let us go and wake him out of his sleep." And along they go. There they go! That's Christ in his humanity. And yonder's a little house, the home of Jesus. And a couple of disconsolate sisters are weeping as if their hearts would break; and the very Jews are weeping -- they're all weeping. There a messenger goes in, and says, "Mary, the Master's come;" and Mary sits still. Why did she not go with the rest? But Martha was up, -- always a stirring. And away she went, and met them; and as soon as she got to Christ, she fell down, and in a storm of emotion, she cried out, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!" She tells Mary, "Mary! the Master's coming, and calleth for thee." Mary got up, and the Jews said, "See, see, see, she's going!" Yonder Jesus stands in the place, and as soon as Mary came up, her heart was big with grief, and she fell down and poured her tears at his feet and said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!" Says he, "Where have ye laid him?" and they said, "Come and see;" and the big tears began to trickle down his cheeks, and the Jews said, "Behold, how he loved him!" and in these tears I own his manhood. He had feelings, and could feel the storm of emotion. "Where have ye laid him?" "Come and see." And as he was going, Martha said to him, "Lord, by this time he is not fit to be seen." "Martha," said he, "your brother shall rise again." "O yes! I know he'll rise again at the resurrection." Said he, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live and whoso liveth and believeth shall never die. Believest thou this?" And they went on together. They go, till by and by they come to the tomb; and they stood near the tomb, and the Jews gathered about. Said he, "Roll away the stone;" and the stone was rolled away: and there lay Lazarus in his winding sheet, pale and stiff in death, for the soul had been out of the body four days, and there he stood. Now it is Jesus works like a man. His face was like a man; he lifts up his eyes to heaven, and looks like a man; and the dead stirs not. But when you hear the voice, it is the voice of eternity -- "LAZARUS, COME FORTH!" and the dead began to stir; and the man springs on his feet, and Jesus says, "Loose him, and let him go!" I own his Godhead there, I worship him as my God, that can raise the dead; -- the resurrection and the life, in whom he that believeth, though he were dead, yet shall believe.
Ay, there's another scene. I see a lake spread out before me; in the midnight hour there is a little vessel laboring in a tremendous sea. There's universal consternation on board that little ship. The sails are torn from the masts, and the tremendous waves rush in. Come, come, -- take care! Who's that lying there? Light in the forecastle there! It's Jesus Christ, asleep, in the midst of the peril, -- and this is his humanity. Hear the cry, "Lord, save us, or we perish!" He's on his feet! behold him now! He stands upon the deck. His hair streams in the midnight winds, and the waves are in fury, and his seamless coat is spurted [dampened] with the spray: all is universal consternation, and the vessel's about to go to the bottom. "Hear, ye winds and waves! Peace, peace! be still!" There the waves are; will they hear that whisper? "Peace, peace! be still!" The waves crouch down before his face, and by and by there is not a breath; and a mighty power levels every wave, and the last breaks upon the shore, and there's a universal calm. And while seamen cry out, "How great a man is this, that the very wind and waves obey him!" my soul bows down and adores him, and confesses that he's God as well as man. HALLELUJAH! HE IS GOD! This God is our God, for ever and ever! Glory be to God!
O, praise him! praise him! I would say to you, may my God bless you! If I had time, I would take you to the garden and see him there; and I would show you him ascending up into light, -- up into heaven, and taking his throne as Mediator; and would take up that universal voice in baptism, -- "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," -- and would bind them all together, and lay them at the feet of my Lord, and call upon you and upon all heaven to bring forth the royal diadem, and crown my Jesus Lord of all. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
Well, then; let Unitarians call us madmen; let them ridicule our trusting in his blood, and adoring him as God; but while heaven is praising its King, and all the armies of the sky are praising him, and while it is said that at the name or Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord,-- with the rest of heaven -- with all the good Protestants upon the earth -let the Unitarians say as they will, we will worship Jesus Christ as our God, as our Saviour. We will adore him, for upon the foundation of his Godhead the whole superstructure of redemption is raised. If he's not God, his blood is good for nothing. It is the Godhead of Christ that gives efficacy to his blood. Take away the Godhead from Jesus Christ, and make him a mere man, and I could not trust in his blood. And therefore I could not be a New Testament Christian. He was man that he might have blood to shed; he was God that blood might obtain the forgiveness of sins. Join me in saying, with the great prophet Isaiah, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." In the name of the living God, hold closely by the divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord. And may God help us to love him, serve him, and adore him; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.