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creator of all things, as if the knowledge of himself was no less essential as a qualification for eternal life? In whom besides would not this familiar association of himself with God, have been an impiety, a blasphemy! None but he, who, “ being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” could have dared so to deify himself, as to inform mankind that their salvation depended on the knowledge of God and of himself, as if the knowledge of the one was equally indispensable with that of the other. But that Christ did unequivocally assert this equality, you may further learn from an interesting and important conversation recorded in the beginning of the fourteenth chapter of St. John, which, as it relates very closely to my present subject, and indeed expresses more at length the very same truth as that contained in my text, I will read to you. heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also
In my Father's house are many mansions ; if it were not so, I would have told you ; I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also; and whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can
66 Let not your
we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also ; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?"
This passage is a good commentary on my text; the one declares that eternal life depends on our possessing a knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ; the other more fully explains how and why this is. It is because the Father and the Son are inseparably united in the Godhead,--the Father in the Son, the Son in the Father,—so that it is impossible rightly to know the one, without knowing the other also.” “He that hath seen me,” says our blessed Saviour, “hath seen the Father, how sayest thou then, show us the Father?” God is a Spirit; no man therefore hath seen him at any time, in his true nature and essence, nor could see him; but as much of him as could be displayed to mortal eye, seen through the obscuring veil of humanity, revealed in the person of his divine Son, who is
therefore called in the Scriptures “God manifested in the flesh,” “the image of the invisible God,” the “brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” “the word, who was God, made flesh, and dwelling among us.” It is in consequence pecessary to our salvation that we should know the Son as well as the Father, be
“no man knoweth who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him," and because the Son is himself “the
the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him.”
This then being the true doctrine, not only of the passage now before us, but of many other parts of the holy Scriptures, I do not hesitate to set it down as the first and most important circumstance in which the knowledge of God, required by my text, consists, that “we should believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ; for the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God, is God and man:” and the Athanasian creed, which I have now quoted, in declaring that this faith is “necessary to everlasting salvation,” does not assert or require more in this particular than the words of my text, “this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent;" for such an equality, (as I have already shown) is herein expressed, that we must believe the Father and the Son to be mysteriously united in the man Christ Jesus.
Here then, my brethren, is a truth which it is of primary importance to your salvation that you should rightly understand and firmly hold; a fundamental article of your christian faith, upon which the whole superstructure of your belief and practice must be built; for if not built upon it, it will be inefficient and unprofitable. I am addressing you as Christians, as persons who profess the gospel, and who have the means of knowing what the gospel teaches. The state of the heathen world, of those whom the blessed light of revelation has not yet reached, forms no part of our consideration; with their duties and their hopes we are not concerned, whether, if they worship and serve some Divine Being, of their own imagination conscientiously, according to the knowledge and ability which they possess, they will or will not be accepted and saved through the uncovenanted mercy of an “unknown God,” and by the efficacious merits of a Redeemer, in whom they do not trust, because they have never heard his name, may be an interesting question, but it is one which has no relation to our own personal condition; and to any man who should exercise a vain curiosity
about it, Christ might reply, as he did to Peter, when he was too inquisitive into a secret, unnecessary for him to know, “What is that to thee? follow thou me.” Leaving therefore those, who have no higher means of information, to the practice of such religion as they can learn from the light of nature, and the obscure hints of uncertain tradition, let us confine our views for the present to our own case. Are we, to whom the knowledge of the truth has been vouchsafed, at liberty to invent a religion for ourselves ? Is there any safety for us, if we endeavour to worship and serve God in a different way from that which has been revealed, however conscientious be our error, when we might have known the true way? Surely not; otherwise a revelation has been given us in vain, for we could be saved as well without it.
Then my brethren, it is not sufficient for us, (as some in a christian land, and themselves professors of christianity, seem to think,) nor will it avail to our salvation, that we worship God according to our own fancies, and live according to the laws of our own natural conscience; but we must have such a knowledge of the only true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, as to be assured that we can only approach the Father through the Son; that our prayers can only be