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And they atoned Stephen, ealling upon God and ftying, Lord Jcsas, receive my spirit. It is to be numbered among the evidences of our Saviour's divinity, that he is an object of prayer. It may comport with the principles of the Romish church to address their petitions to created spirits ; but a protestant who would preserve consistency, must either subscribe to the divinity of Christ or refuse to call upon his name. We have an instance before us of a martyr, who on the verge of immortal light, while his soul was filled with the Holy Ghost, and the heavens were opened to his mortal vision, called on the name of Jesus. There is no term in the original answering to the word God. This was supplied by the translators : but the meaning would have been better preserved without it. In the original it is thus : *'And they stoned Stephen, calling
160 CALLI G O THE upon and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spiriL'' The immediate object of his prayer was the Re* deemer, whom he was then beholding at the right hand of God. It was the practice of the primitive Christians to call on the name of ChrisL This was the discriminating mark between them and the Jews, who called on the name of the Father but refused divine honors to the Son. When the Lord Jesus appeared in vision to Ananias at Damascus and commanded him to visit the penitent Saoi, ^^Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of
this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem : and here he hath authori^ from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.^ And when he had come to Saul, he concluded his message in these words : *^ And now why tarriest thoa f Arise and be baptised and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.^ — ^the same Lord Jesus. "And straightway'' Saul " preached Ckria in the synagogues : — ^but all that heard him were amazed, and said. Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem ?" The first Epistle to the Corinthians is addressed to *^tbe church of God which is at Corinth, — ^with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.^ To the Romans Paul writes : " If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. — For the Scripture saith. Whosoever helieveth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek ; for the same Lord over all,
KAHS or jruus. 161 [meaning Jeius Christ^} is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the nams of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in u>hom they have not believed? [It was Jesus Christ in whom they were to believe.] And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard f^ "These things,'' says John, "have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. — ^And this is the confidence that we have in Atm, that if we ask anything according to his will he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he
shall ask and Ae, [the Son of God,] shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." Persons acquainted only with our English translation, may imagine that they discover in another passage a prohibition against praying to Clurist. " In that day ye shall ask me nothing : verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." The darkness of this passage is wholly in our translation ; in the original the sense is plain. The confusion in our version is produced by translating two words of quite different significations by one and the same English term. I mean the word ask. One of the Greek words thus translated signifies to ask questions ; the other, to ask in a way of petition. In the preceding conversation Jesus had foretold his death in a manner which the disciples did not understand, and they were anxious to comprehend his meaning. Vol. n. 81
162 CALLI G O THE ^< ow Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me 1^ Then having expressed himself somewhat more intelligibly concerning his death and resurrection, and their subsequent joy on earth, (referring to Pentecost,) he adds, ^* And in that day ye shall ask me nothing.'^ Ye shall have no occasion to interrogate me, or that I should be present to solve your doubts. When you shall be anointed with the Holy Ghost, you will not need ^^ that any man teach you, but — ^the same anointing" shall teach you " all things.** " When he, the Spirit of truth,
is come, he will guide you into all truth.'' And furthermore, to supply the want of my personal presence and instruction, " Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name," — ^whatsoever wisdom or knowledge ye shall request, — " he will give it you." Thus the primitive Church did not confine their petitions to the Redeemer ; they prayed also to the Father. Sometimes we are taught to supplicate the Father in the name of Christ, and are told that the Father will answer ; because all the blessings originally come from him. Sometimes we are taught to ask the Father in the name of Christ, and are told that Christ will answer ; because to him as King of Zion is committed the distribution of all good. ^^ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. — ^If ye shall ask any thing in my name, / will do it." And sometimes, as we have seen, we are
AME OF JESUS. 163 taught to pray immediately to Christ, with assur* ances that he will bestow. I will, I. Inquire how Christ and the Father can both bestow, and are both the proper objects of prayer. n. Consider some of the peculiar advantages of praying to Christ. L How is it that Christ and the Father can both bestow, and are both the proper objects of prayer ? We cannot indeed comprehend the mode of union between the Persons of the Trinity, or between the divine and human nature of Christ ; and it may be doubtful whether we fully comprehend the Media'tor^s connexion with the Father and dependance on
him. As it is a connexion and dependance of ojicej I am not sure that any part of it is incomprehensible. The following things the Scriptures enable us at least to assert. 1. When Christ is spoken of as the object of prayer, and as the agent that bestows, it is not to be understood of him as pure God or as mere man, but as Mediator, — as one holding an office under God, but himself consisting of two natures ; — as the Agent delegated by the Father to redeem the Church, to govern the universe, to receive prayers, and to bestow blessings. 2. The Mediator has derived his appointment and all his authority from the Father. Though as God he had existence in himself, yet as Mediator he was created by the Father ; that is, the Father created that office, and appointed him to it, and invested him with all the rights and authority appertaining to it. As the Father's Vicegerent he ex-
164 CALLI a O THE erciies the authority and admiaiBters the goTemment belonging to God. As he acts in the Father's name and by his delegated power, and with a will in perfect accordance with his will, whatever he bestows may be considered as bestowed by the Father, and may be sought equally of the Father and the Son. 3. Although the government is committed to the Son, there is a propriety in pra3ring to the Father. The blessings were originally his. For creatures to seek them of him alone was the natural order. And it cannot be supposed that the one living and true Grod is less worthy of worship because he has
glorified himself by providing a Mediator. The will of the Father is active in every gift bestowed by the Son ; for it is bestowed in unchanging obedience to his command, and by authority bestowed for this immutable purpose. otwithstanding the awful purity of God, — so pure that " the heavens are not clean in his sight," — ^yet a way is opened by which sinners may approach him with safety. Instead of being eternally hid behind a Mediator, he has chosen this method of grace to manifest himself most luminously to the universe, and now steadily shows ^^ the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'' Every reason therefore exists why prayer should be made to the Father. 4. There are reasons why the Mediator should be made the object of prayer. ot to insist on his divine dignity, he has in reward of his obedience unto death, been exalted to the dominion of the
AME OF JEMVB. 16$ uniyerse. Angels, meoi and devils are put under him. ot a sparrow falls to the ground without him. All the interests of the Church are in his hands. The Father, (so to speak,) has put off the weight of government upon the Son, and pushed him forward to a public station, where every eye im heaven may behold their King. The wheels of go« vernment are no longer moved by an invisible hand, but by the incarnate God, — the medium of all intercourse between God and man, — the Father's da* legate, stationed on the confines of his kingdom, to receive in his name the tribute due from creatures* This honor, as the anticipated reward of his obedience unto death, was secured to him by covenant from etemi^. By the same anticipation he entered
on the government as soon as man fell, and as God's Vicegerent took into his hands the management of a world which he had engaged to redeem. It was he that appeared to the patriarchs ; (^* no man hath seen God at any time,'') it was he that entered into covenant with Abraham, that brought his people out of Egypt, that gave the law at Sinai, that sat between the cherubims in the tabernacle and temple, that received the worship of the Church in every age as the God of Israel. Even while his manhood was toiling through the afflictions of life and was expiring on the cross, he held the comers of heaven on his shoulder^ and the earth in the hollow of his hand. He had " power to lay — down" his life, and he had ^^ power to take it again." In reward of his obedience unto death he was constituted ^^Heir of all things." By anticipation be
166 CALLI G O THE took possession of the inheritance from the fall. But when he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, he was, in a more visible and complete manner, put in possession of the whole estate. Seated on the highest visible throne in heaven, and shedding indescribable lustre from his resplendent Person, he moves the remotest planet and numbers every hair of your head. He darts an eye through the caverns of hell and spies and frustrates the most latent wile that is there conceived. From the top of heaven he looks abroad through the upper spheres and regulates all their motions. But the centre of his care is the earth on which he has left a beloved Church. Receiving the prostrate homage of seraphim and cherubim, he sends them forth as ministering spirits to his Church on earth. This Church is committed to his special care, that he may preserve and defend it and complete eveiy part
of its salvation. ^^ He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.'' And when he has brought all his people home, and raised their bodies from the grave, and judged the world, and separated his friends and foes to their appointed places, he will resign the general kingdom to the Father, ^^ that God may be all in all," while yet he retains the throne over his redeemed forever and ever. This view of the exaltation and government of the Mediator offers a proper reason for addressing our prayers to him. To whom is it more proper to pray than to the Governor of the world ? To whom is it more proper to apply for spiritual blessings, than to him who is exalted ^^ to be a Prince
AME OF JESUS. 167 and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins ?'' To whom is it more proper to go for every earthly comfort, than to him who as " Heir of all things'* owns the whole estate ? ot a prayer has been answered since the fall, but the blessing came from the Mediator. Since the first establishment of a Church, the Father has never interfered in the government of the world, but has left it all to the Son. 5. People prayed to Christ even in the days of his humiUation ; how much more should they do it now since he has sat down upon his throne ? When you open the Evangelists and behold a leper, a blind man, or the parent of a lunatic at the feet of Jusus, and hear him say, ^^ Be it unto thee even as thou wilt," — at the same time professing to relieve them by power derived from the Father ; and when you hear the same persons giving thanks to the Father for their relief, — ^you at once see that there is no
discrepancy between calling on the Father and entreating the Son. Although Christ is now exalted to dominion, it is still a dominion received from .the Father. Though he has exchanged the robe of mock royalty for a robe of light, and the crown of thorns for the diadem of the universe, it is Jesus of azareth still, — as accessible, as full of compassion, as much a distinct object of supplication, — as when he was toiling here on earth. n. I am to consider some of the peculiar advantages of praying to Christ. I will mention three. He may be approached with less dread ; he may be more easily apprehended ; and the habit of praying
168 CALLIVO O THE to him tends to impress us with the importance ^ the station vshich he holds in Zion. 1 • Simiers may approach him with less dtead than they ordinarily feel in a[^roaching the invisible and incomprehensible God. When overwhelmed with the thought of the infinite Majes^ of heaven and earth, and assaying to hide themselves from the dreadful glory, what relief to find the Governor of the world in their own shape, their iHrother, their flesh and blood, once nourished by the breasts of woman, — who ate and talked and wept with miserable men. Who will fear to approach Jesus of alareth, who received the blind men of Jerico and the Syrophenician woman, who wept over Lazarus and over Jerusalem, who supported the beloved John on his laboring bosom ? Who will be afraid to approach the Husband of the Church, who regards her and all her members as ^^ his own fleshy" and loves her ** even as himself' ?
2. Prayer to Christ has the advantage of a more easy apprehension of its object. The mind is soon lost in an attempt to contemplate the invisible Grod. But a God incarnate, — a God in human shape, — a God brought down within the reach of our senses, — is an object of more easy apprehension. When you behold him on earth, and see the cures he performed and the prayers which he answered, you form easy conceptions of one who has divine ability to relieve. When you follow him to his throne in heaven, and see that it is the same Jesus who governs the world, who daily gives audience to his people on earth, the mind, no longer flitting from
HAMS OF J£81T8. 16t image to image, rests on one who has a settled form and place. One great end of the incarnation was to bring down the infinite and incomprehensible God within the reach of human senses and finite apprehensions. In his own nature God was exalted so far above created vision, th:it the very angels needed some step by which they might ascend to view him, — some visible point on which their eyes might fix, — ^where the presence of the omnipresent God might centre, — some window through which they might look up into God, — some image of the invisible Deity on which his perfections might be instampcd and made disccrnablc by creatures. — All this is done. But those who pass by the visible God, lose the advantage of this arrangement. 3. To make Christ frequently the object of our prayers, tends to impress us with the importance of
the station which he holds in the economy of redemp^ tion. Had he remained on earth, and we could have gone to him daily as the only one appointed to relieve our distresses, it would have been easy to view him of the first importance. But those who are in the habit of applying to him on his heavenly throne, are as deeply conscious of the part he acts as though they were applying to him on earth. They are even more conscious of it. Accustomed to approach his throne and view him reigning the universal King, actually conducting sinners to heaven and introducing them to the Father, they sec his station in Zion and his influence on our salvation to be greater and more necessary than did any of those who approached him in the days of his flesh* ToXm 1L ts
170 cALLina on the Did I hear yoa say, O that I had a Saviour present to deliver me from my sins and afflictions : O that he was on earth as he once was^ that I ihight kbow where to find him, and go^ as other distressed sinhers went, and fall down at his feet?-^This is be* cause you do not accustom yourselves to go directly to him in prayer. Why do you not lift up your e3re8 to where he now sits, — still alive, still present, still attentive to every want and wish ? You would not then be mourning that your ienemies assault you and you have no deliverer. Why is it that some of you find it so difficult to aj^ehend Christ in distinction from the Father, but because you habituate yourselves to pass by the visible King and make all your addresses to the invisible God? Had you seen Christ on earth you would have found no difficulty in conceiving of him as distinct from the Father. And if you were accustomed to address
your prayers directly to him in heaven, you would have no more difficulty now. You couM then say, My faith has seen Jesus of azareth on his throne : I have been with him : I have obtained blessings from him : I have as clearly seen him to be distinct from the Father as though I had been with him at the last passover^ or, (as Thomas was challenged to do,) had thrust my hand into his side. — ^Would you surmount the difficulty of conceiving of Christ as distinct from the Father, often read his life ; follow him with an attentive eye through the different scenes of his mortal course; follow him to the cross ; lose not sight of him there ; pursue him as .he rises from the sepulchre to his throne ; gaze up-
AMB OF JESUS. 171 on him there. Behold the same body, the same features. It is Jesus of azareth still ; — as much a man, and just as much a God, as when he was on earth. Go to him as he sits enthroned, as the distressed applied to him on earth, and cry in his ears, " Thou son of David, have mercy on me.** Would you have a more exalted view ? Follow him again through his life : mark his love, his condescension, his reverence for the Father, (it will render even the Father more revered in your eyes,) his submission, his obedience, his venerable sanctity : then follow him to his present dignities and glories; and you will find this exercise tending greatly to strengthen both your apprehension and your adoration of the Son of God. It will be the most interesting, soothing, melting, and I will add, purifying train of reflections that you can pursue,— no less so than to have seen him and applied to him when on earth. It is by the hand of Jesus that you must be healed and saved. It is by a believing application to him that this healing must be obtained.
This putting Christ put of view and going only to the invisible God, savors too much of natural religion and legal righteousness. A Jew would have done this, and a heathen could almost do it. It deserves serious inquiry whether this is not a principal reason why our prayers are so unavailing. — We pray often for strength to resist temptation, but it does not come. Why does it not come? There must be some defect in our prayers. Those who applied to Jesus when he was on earth, found no difficulty in obtaining reUef. Were they blind ?
172 CAIXIVa O THS AVK OP their eyes were opened ; were tbej corered leprosy ? they were cleansed. He turned dom away. Would we apply to Jesus now, he is stiD the same, and our petitions would be no less aTailing. Those who neglected the Son and worshipped only the Father, were not relieved in that day.— We must go to Jesus. Renounce every other hope ; put your life in your hands, and go up and ^ toocb the hem of his garment." Ah, when we look to heaven and behold him od the throne, — ^thc Being who moves every wheel of providence, who fills the Church on earth, who filb all heaven with his influence, his admiration, and his fame ; — ^when we view him the Grovemor, the glory, the life of the universe; — and then look around and behold some of our brethren who believe not that he ever existed, and others who own his being but reject his grace ; our hearts are ready to bleed their life away. But it will not avail. They must hug their misery and their ruin ; bat we will cleave to Jesus our Saviour. I would rather be that bruised, dying Stephen, than to &l the throne of ero. Had I but one wish to offer^ it
should be this, — to possess at last the views of this holy martyr. My God, when I lie gasping in death, may my faith behold, (though in a far hnmbler sense,) ^^ the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God ;^ and may I breathe my last breath in saying, ^^ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.^
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